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Tết Nguyên Đán: Feast of the first morning


Bánh chưng - a traditional rice cake served during Tết.Credit Martina Rathgens ; Link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/riviera2008/2907578814/

Electrolux would like to wish all our Vietnamese friends, “cung chúc tân xuân” and “an khang thịnh vượng!” (Respectively, the Vietnamese phrases mean “Happy New Year” and “Security, good health and prosperity”.)

Tết Nguyên Đán more commonly known as Tết, is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Tết is the most important and popular festival in Vietnam. It marks the first day of Spring and holds special significance to the Vietnamese. It is a festival of family reunions and celebration, of worship and remembrance, similar to that of their Chinese brethren.

Preparations for Tết start weeks before the actual day itself. Homes are cleaned thoroughly in advance. Cleaning on the day of celebration itself is frowned upon as this is seen as sweeping away one’s luck.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, cleaning equipment is normally stored away on New Year’s Eve. Proud owners of Electrolux’s range of Ergorapido vacuum cleaners will find this particularly easy with their slim redefined design that looks good stored even in plain sight.

Tết holiday dishes like Bánh chưng – the traditional New Year rice cake, pig’s trotters stewed with bamboo shoots, bitter gourd, stir-fried almond and papaya salad are also prepared.

banh chung

Bánh chưng – a traditional rice cake served during Tết.

Tết feasts normally cater to a large number of family members and guests over a couple of days. Make sure you have enough storage space for all those ingredients by using refrigerators like the Electrolux ESE6977SC – a compact side-by-side refrigerator with all the organizational benefits of a larger model but designed to fit in the popular 900mm wide fridge cavity found in most modern kitchens.

Depending on the locality, different traditional Tết decorations are put up. These include Peach blossoms, apricot flowers, * kumquat trees, chrysanthemums, marigold and lavender.

tet decorations

Tết decorations around the city.

Photo credit: Martina Rathgens

Peach Blossoms: Peach blossoms are part of traditional Tết decorations.

Peach blossoms are part of traditional Tết decorations.

Photo credit: alex.ch

On the 23rd day of the 12th month by the lunar calendar, the Kitchen God (Ông Táo) of each house returns to Heaven to report to the Jade Emperor. He informs the celestials of the events that have transpired during the past year. Offerings such as sweets, cookies and other pleasantries are made to gain his favour and secure a favourable report to the Jade Emperor.

The first day of Tết is normally reserved for the nuclear family. According to Vietnamese tradition, if good things come to the family on the first day of the Lunar New Year, then the entire year will be full of blessings. Whether or not the first day is a good day depends on who steps into the house first. A person of good morals, temper and success is normally invited first into the house to symbolise the welcoming of all things good.

Subsequent days are spent visiting extended family and friends. The third day in particular is spent visiting teachers. Teachers command a lot of respect in Vietnam and since Tết is about reunion and paying homage, many Vietnamese, both young and old, whether still in school and or graduated, pay visits to their teachers.

On the 15th day of Tết, which is also the last,   ceremonies are held in Buddhist temples all across the country. Considered as the most auspicious day of the Buddhist year, many flock to the temples to pay their respects, have their fortunes told and pray for a blissful year ahead – a fitting end to a time-honoured celebration.

* Kumquat trees are a group of small fruit-bearing trees with edible fruit closely resembling oranges.  These ‘oranges’ however are much smaller and ovular and are approximately the size and shape of an olive.

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