Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet, is an important festival in Vietnam, marking the arrival of spring. Tet takes place according to the lunisolar calendar, beginning on the first new moon of the year. We’ve put together some information about the festivities and where you can celebrate Vietnamese New Year in Australia in 2021.
When is Vietnamese New Year in 2021?
In 2021, Vietnamese New Year will be on 12 February, the same day as Chinese New Year. However, as Chinese New Year celebrates the Year of the Ox, Vietnamese New Year will celebrate the Year of the Buffalo. The Vietnamese zodiac calendar is similar to the Chinese zodiac, except that Buffalo takes the place of the Ox and Cat replaces the Rabbit.
What is Vietnamese New Year?
Vietnamese New Year has its own unique customs and traditions and the celebrations can last from three days to an entire week. Depending on the region and its beliefs, customs are slightly different across areas and families, but the festivities always symbolise letting go of the past year and celebrating the new.
Before Vietnamese New Year celebrations begin, it’s customary for people to clean their houses, not only for the arrival of family, but to sweep out misfortune from the previous year. Traditional food is prepared and, as celebrations begin, people reunite with their families and honour deceased ancestors. This is done throughout the holiday, as deceased ancestors are invited to meals and given offerings. It is also common for people to visit temples or pagodas to pray for prosperity, happiness and health. During Vietnamese New Year, some women wear the traditional Ao Dai, while men wear the Ao Gam.
During Tet, people often shop for Tet trees, which are an important and appealing part of Vietnamese New Year. They include peach blossom, kumquat and orange trees, and their blossoming symbolises new life and good luck. People also look for gifts, as presents are usually exchanged between family and friends. Gift baskets are common and usually include soft cakes, biscuits and candles, although you can check out our Lunar New Year Gift Guide for more ideas. In exchange for greetings, children often receive ‘lucky money’ in red envelopes, said to bring prosperity and health to the child.
Vietnam is colourful during New Year celebrations, as the streets are decorated with lanterns and colours of red and yellow, symbolising good fortune. Brilliant firework displays begin the New Year and the traditional lan dance, similar to the Chinese Lion Dance, brings festivities to an end.
There are special foods which are traditionally eaten during Tet. New Year’s Eve, or Tat Nien, often includes a reunion dinner to celebrate the end of the previous year. Banh Chung, commonly eaten during Tet, is made out of rice, mung beans and pork, artfully wrapped with green leaves. A sweeter version of this, which is also eaten during New Year, is Banh Tet Chuoi, in which ripe bananas are encased in sticky rice that turns pink when cooked. Another important part of Vietnamese New Year is the Mut Tet tray, which is a plate of candied fruits, vegetables and nuts, with custard candy and various seeds. The sweetness of this platter is said to bring luck and happiness.
Where to Celebrate Vietnamese New Year in Australia
There are a range of Vietnamese New Year celebrations in Australia, usually part of bigger Lunar New Year Festivals. Although there aren’t quite as many this year due to COVID-19, we have listed the upcoming Lunar New Year festivities happening in 2021.
Sydney Lunar Festival(12-21 February)
Chatswood Lunar New Year Celebrations (23 January – 26 February)
TET Festival [Online] (6-7 February)
Vietnamese New Year Mass(11-14 February)
TET FESTIVAL – HỘI CHỢ TẾT (12 February)
TET FEST (6 February)
Live Lunar New Year Street Party(20-21 February)
Lunar New Year Fair at University of Adelaide (11 February)
Vietnamese New Year Celebration – HỘI CHỢ TẾT TÂN SỬU(19-20 February)
Lantern Festival (27 February)
TET 2021 WITH ViSATAS (13 February)
Check with your local Vietnamese community, such as the Vietnamese Community NT Chapter Inc, for New Year celebrations.