In Vietnam, the Lunar New Year is called Tet, short for Tet Nguyen Dan and it is the most significant and widely celebrated holiday throughout the country. The name means 'feast for the first morning' and is almost always celebrated on the same date as in Hong Kong and China.
Marking the beginning of the Lunar New Year, it is a time for families to come together, pay respects to ancestors and welcome the arrival of Spring. Tet typically lasts for about a week, with festivities beginning on the last day of the lunar calendar and continuing for several days into the New Year.
The celebration is deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture and tradition, encompassing a blend of religious, cultural and family-oriented practices as well as a feast to transcend culinary boundaries.
You can't escape the mouth-watering aroma of bánh chung, a square sticky rice cake filled with mung beans, pork and a special touch of Tet magic. The meticulous preparation of these savoury parcels reflects the essence of Tet, where families come together to create recipes that have been passed down through generations.
Tet is incomplete without the tantalising fragrance of pickled vegetables like do chua, adding a zesty crunch to festive spreads. These colourful pickles made from carrots and daikon radishes symbolise luck and prosperity for the coming year, creating a harmonious balance of flavours on the table.
Bountiful trays of nem, Vietnamese spring rolls, are an essential Tet delight. Filled with fresh herbs, vermicelli noodles and either shrimp or pork, these delicate rolls are a culinary representation of prosperity and the promise of new beginnings.
The Tet celebration extends to sweet indulgences such as the luxurious bánh dày, a glutinous rice cake coated in mung bean paste and sesame seeds. Each bite encapsulates the sweetness of reunion and the hope for a prosperous year ahead.
If you are ever in Vietnam during Tet, you may also see fireworks, parades and cultural performances where public spaces come alive with flower markets and decorations. Just as each culture has a special day or occasion to mark all the cherished things about their culture and way of living, Tet is this to the Vietnamese.