Published on January 23rd, 2012


Happy (Lunar) New Year (Tết) from Vietnam!


2012 “The Year of the Dragon”

Based on the Lunar calendar, today is the first day of 2012 – the Year of the Dragon.  Short for “Tết Nguyên Đán”, Tết is a HUGE holiday here in Vietnam.

Indeed, rather like Christmas-combined-with-Easter-combined-with-4th-of-July… on STEROIDS!  There’s weeks of preparations, cooking, cleaning, buying new clothes, flowers, special foods, candy, little red “lucky money” envelopes given to children, etc.

The streets are lined with vendors selling “Easter” baskets of candy and treats, and displays of special fruits (like watermelon, grapefruit, mango, etc.) that each have a propitious meaning.  Special foods are cooked and offered to the kitchen spirits, and home alters are adorned with food, fruit, flowers and incense for ancestors and the Buddha. Then as the new year draws near, flower festivals spring up in all the parks, lanterns and lights twinkle in every tree, and fireworks fill the sky at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

But that’s not the end of it – it goes on for a week or more, as most every blessed Vietnamese heads back home to their childhood village for reunions with their parents and relatives.  It’s a mass EXODUS, leaving HCMC verily deserted.  The usual cacophony of gazllions of motorbikes zoom, zoom, zooming like locust in the streets – today it’s so quiet you can hear BIRDS CHIRPING!  Indeed, this may well be the only day when one can SAFELY CROSS THE STREET in Saigon!

I don’t presume to understand but a smidge of it – the religious significance, the many nuanced family customs.  But I can tell you this:  Tết in Vietnam, makes New Year’s Eve in the States look like a vapid play-date with your Uncle Leroy (you know, the one who drools while slurping his Campbell’s tomato soup.)

That, and I can at least drop a few pics of some of the highlights, plus point you to a full gallery of images of the flower festival at my eye-candy site: Through the Eyes of TravelnLass.


A little pre-Tet party w/ a few of Hang’s English
classmates (my old CELTA students!)


Some of the yummy eats that
we all helped prepare


My Vietnamese friend “Hang” and her youngest son, “Ben”


Hang’s husband and oldest son “Bi” fishing at the flower festival


The TravelnLass tries to land “The Big One”


My first Nibbling Foot Massage (they exfoliate your feet!) Something I’d been wanting to try here in Asia. Just 20,000 dong ($1) at the flower festival – tooo fun!


View all my pics of the 2012 Tet Flower Festival HERE in Flickr Album.


P.S. Curiously, I had to wait more than an hour to post this live ‘cuz – while it’s already Monday, the 23rd (New Year’s Day here in Vietnam), this blog’s server apparently is set on U.S. time (thus the post date was still showing Sunday, 22 January).


About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!

3 Responses to Happy (Lunar) New Year (Tết) from Vietnam!

  1. TravelnLass says:

    @Gail – yes, the Vietnamese are one of the most “Westernized” cultures here in Asia. Not only in dress, but in work, marriage (i.e. women are equal to men), etc. Indeed, my friend Hang has a university degree and worked as a stock broker; her husband works in IT and is studying for his Masters at night. They own their own home (paid for in cash) as well as another home they purchased in full and rent to a music studio.

    I don’t presume to understand it all, but it’s a fascinating culture, the people are fantastic, and I’m learning new bits every day!

  2. Sweet! So colorful and festive! Delish food, and all seem in western dress.

  3. Amy VJ says:

    Wow!!! Fabulous pics and thanks for describing the scene so vividly. I am jealous as can be!

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