Vietnamese Language Blog

Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year Celebration) – Dos and Don’ts Posted by on Jan 31, 2022 in Culture, Events

Image taken and used with permission from Tram-Thien Le

Tết nguyên đán, the 2022 Vietnamese new year will fall on Tuesday, February 1, 2022 of the Gregorian calendar. This will be năm Nhâm Dần (Year of the Tiger). Tết is the biggest and most important holiday of the year for the Vietnamese. Since the government lifted COVID restrictions in most areas of Vietnam, lots of activities have resumed just in time to celebrate.

The Vietnamese will officially have nine days off as a national holiday, including the weekends, to celebrate Tết. However, lots of local businesses customarily don’t resume business until the first full moon after the new year, which is about two weeks later. Market stalls, except for some essential things, usually don’t even start selling goods until the third or even fourth week of January in the lunar calendar. So, if you are in Vietnam for whatever reason, complete your business, including grocery shopping, before Tết.

It’s a sharp contrast between days before and after Tết. A week before Tết¸ streets are jammed with traffic from people shopping, giving gifts to each others, and going to year-end parties. When the new year day comes, the streets are completely quiet. Most workers who came from the countryside to big cities typically return home to celebrate Tết. Therefore, it’s actually more peaceful, tranquil, and less congested in the city after Tết.


Image taken and used with permission from Caroline Le

  • GIFTS – It’s a very stressful time before Tết because people have to spend a lot of money to buy all kinds of gifts to give to parents, relatives, bosses, your children’s teachers, friends, etc. All gifts have to be delivered before Tết.
  • NEW CLOTHES – You may want to buy your children new clothes for them to wear on New Year Day, as well as for yourself and your spouse.
  • FLOWERS – Every household would have at least a branch of hoa Mai (yellow blossoms), and a pair of hoa Cúc (chrysanthemum) pots or some other kinds of flowers, and a pair of Kim quat fruit pots or other exotic fruit pots. The hoa Mai bonsai is the most desirable and often is a conversation piece during Tết.
  • FOODSDefinitely, all households ought to celebrate Tết with at least a pair of bánh Chưng and a tray of mứt (fruit candies).
  • HOUSE CLEANING – Tidy your house, dust, and clean it well inside and out, upside down.
  • LUCKY MONEYLì xì or giving lucky money in a red envelope is an important custom during Tết.


  • NO SWEEPING – Quét nhà (sweeping the house) is a big NO on New Year day. People believe that you don’t want to sweep the money and luck away. Ideally, people want to avoid quét nhà for the first three days of the year.
  • NO BLACK NOR WHITE CLOTHING – Black and white clothing are typical for funerals Therefore, it’s a huge NO to wear black or white clothing on the New Year. Red or any bright colors are encouraged to be worn, especially when you visit people.
  • NO DEPARTURE – No xuất hành (depart) on the 5th, 14th, and 23rd. Those are the dates that the Vietnamese would avoid to leave for any trips.
  • NO CURSING, ARGUING, NEGATIVE TALK on the New Year – Well, people believe whatever happens on the first day of the year sets a precedent for the rest of the year. Who would want to hear an earful of arguments, curses, and trash talk for a whole year?
  • NO KILLING – This is from Buddhist practice and belief. People should phóng sinh (set animal free) instead of hurting them. Thus, many people would buy birds and set them free during the Tết celebration to earn good luck and more blessings from God.


Image taken and used with permission from Christine Le

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