Tet Nguyen Dan, literally means “Feast of the First Morning” & is the most important holiday in Vietnam celebrating the coming of spring. This is a time for cleaning & painting houses to welcome the new year. Many businesses have closed in order for family & friends to visit each other & travel within the country has exploded.
Falling on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar (this year January 31st) celebrations continue for a week. We have witnessed the decorating & frantic preparations since our arrival in Vietnam. We were in Dalat on Tet New Year’s Eve & the townspeople gathered in the city center for fireworks at midnight & played gongs throughout the night. The belief is that the loud noises will get rid of bad luck. Children are given red envelopes with money for good luck and good behaviour. We kept seeing this little square packages of green leaves & found out that it is one of the traditional Vietnamese dishes, called Banh Chung (sticky rice, pork & bean dumpling wrapped in a banana leaf). We had the opportunity to sample the dumpling & found it rather tasteless, not sure what the big draw is. Hat Dua (roasted watermelon seed), Dua Hanh (pickled onion) and Mut (dried sweetened fruit) are abound in the markets & area special treats during this time.
Vietnamese also use many kinds of flowers and plants to decorate their house & we saw literally thousands of huge pots of yellow chrysanthemums, marigolds & beautiful orchids in a rainbow of colours everywhere. Huge pots of kumquat & peach trees were skillfully balanced on the back of scooters. Tonight we are in Ho Chin Min city & the place is party central! Such a festive time & so wonderful that we have the opportunity to experience Tet first-hand.
Happy Tet 2014 ! Chuc Mung Nam Moi !