Tet Celebration in Vietnam: Family Reunions, Ancestral Worship, Renewal, and the Essence of Vietnamese Culture

Tet, or Lunar New Year, is more than just a holiday in Vietnam; it’s the heartbeat of the nation, pulsating with tradition, family, spirituality, and joy. As the most significant cultural event in Vietnam, Tet marks the beginning of the lunar calendar and ushers in a time of renewal, reflection, and connection. Let’s explore the multifaceted aspects of Tet and understand why it holds such a special place in the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people.

Family Reunions

Tet is synonymous with family. It’s a time when family members, often scattered across cities and countries, come together to celebrate, reminisce, and strengthen their bonds.

Traveling Home

The journey home for Tet is a poignant symbol of the longing for roots and connection. Whether by train, bus, or motorbike, the trip home is filled with anticipation and emotion.

Generations Together

Tet brings together multiple generations under one roof, allowing grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren to share stories, wisdom, and love.

Ancestral Worship

Ancestral worship is a core aspect of Tet, reflecting the Vietnamese belief in the continuity of family lineage and the honoring of ancestors.

Ancestral Altars

Families prepare ancestral altars with offerings of food, flowers, incense, and symbolic items. These altars are a focal point of Tet rituals and prayers.

Commemorating Ancestors

Special ceremonies are held to invite the ancestors to join the Tet celebrations, acknowledging their presence and seeking their blessings for the coming year.

Preparations and Traditions

The preparations for Tet are extensive and imbued with symbolism and tradition.

Cleaning and Decorating

Homes are thoroughly cleaned and decorated with flowers, especially peach blossoms and kumquat trees, symbolizing rebirth and prosperity.

Cooking Special Dishes

Traditional Tet dishes, such as Bánh Chưng (rice cake) and pickled onions, are prepared with care and enjoyed together as a family.

Giving Lucky Money

Red envelopes containing “lucky money” are given to children and the elderly, symbolizing good fortune and blessings.

Renewal and New Beginnings

Tet is a time of renewal, marking the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.

Paying Off Debts

It’s customary to settle debts and resolve conflicts before Tet, starting the new year with a clean slate.

New Clothes

Wearing new clothes, especially in red or bright colors, is part of welcoming the new year with freshness and optimism.

Festivities and Celebrations

Tet is a festive time, filled with joy, music, dance, and community gatherings.

Fireworks and Dragon Dances

Fireworks displays and traditional dragon dances add color and excitement to Tet celebrations, especially on New Year’s Eve.

Visiting Friends and Neighbors

Visiting friends and neighbors, exchanging wishes, and sharing treats are common practices, fostering community spirit and goodwill.


Tet is the soul of Vietnam, a celebration that transcends mere festivity to become a profound expression of what it means to be Vietnamese. It’s a time that honors the past, cherishes the present, and embraces the future, weaving together the threads of family, faith, tradition, and renewal into a tapestry that is as vibrant as it is meaningful.

From the bustling markets filled with Tet preparations to the quiet moments of ancestral prayers, from the laughter of family reunions to the shared joy of community celebrations, Tet is a journey into the heart of a culture that values connection, continuity, and the simple yet profound joys of being together.

In a world that often rushes forward, Tet invites us to pause, to reflect, and to savor the timeless beauty of family, the sacredness of heritage, and the promise of new beginnings. It’s a celebration that resonates not just in Vietnam but wherever people value love, legacy, and the eternal dance of life. It’s not just a New Year; it’s a renewal of the human spirit, a reminder of our shared humanity, and a call to live with grace, gratitude, and hope.