February 3, 2016
Our friends and associates in Vietnam are currently preparing for Tet and the upcoming year of the Fire Red Monkey. We wish everyone a prosperous and fruitful new year! May the year of the Fire Red Monkey bring you tremendous success!
If you have been waiting for a reply email, phone call or conclusion of a business matter, you will have to wait a little longer.
What is Tet?
Tet, or Tet Nguyen Dan, is the longest and most popular celebration of the year in Vietnam. It starts on the first day of the Lunar calendar and could last for up to seven days. Tet also marks the beginning of Spring, bringing about a time of new beginnings and deep introspection.
The start of the new year, and Tet, is thought to have a powerful effect on the rest of the year. This idea pervades all of Vietnamese life, from personal relationships to work and business associates.
Vietnamese not only welcome the New Year and Tet with their close family members, but also use it to travel to their ancestral home and pay homage and respect to those ancestors and relatives who have passed. Essentially, Tet is a mixture of Christmas and New Years Day with all of the same celebratory meals and decorations to go with it.
When is Tet?
In 2016, Tet begins on February 8th of the Gregorian calendar (actual holiday from Feb 6-14.) The actual holiday will commence 1 day before Lunar New Year and last about 3-5 days after that.
According to the Gregorian calendar, Tet will begin on February 8th, 2016. However, the actual holiday will begin 1 day before the Lunar New Year and last from February 6th to February 14th.
How is Tet celebrated?
Celebrations of Tet center on the idea of luck and fate. Many of Tet’s celebrators are wary of what they do before the festival, as this could determine their fate for the whole year.
To begin, the Vietnamese will clear their debts and clean their homes before the start of Tet. However, this is never done on the first day of the New Year to avoid clearing out all of their luck as well. After this, they will play games, gamble, tell fortunes, give children new clothes and money, and also participate in dragon dances.
It is key to note that cleaning and setting up their homes is no small task. In an effort to get rid of the prior year’s bad luck, they will spend days polishing each utensil, repainting, and decorating with trees and vibrant flowers. There is also an altar erected for their ancestors that is used in religious rituals and delicately decorated with colorful fruits and papers. To match the newly clean and decorated homes, everyone buys new clothing and shoes to wear in the beginning of the New Year. To close out the year strong and clear, people will attempt to resolve all negativity and disagreements with friends, family and colleagues while also working to clear any debts.
This is the one time of the year to be the most wary of your gestures and comments. Vietnamese will always smile and be on their best behavior with the goal of a better year, so one well-meaning, but clunky comment could cause them to feel ill luck for the next year. Other things that the Vietnamese avoid in the name of good luck are breaking things, lending anything, or greeting each other in a bedroom. These could cause them to break things, lend things, or be ill all year, respectively.
If you do not receive an invitation, calling or visiting someone during Tet is an important mistake to avoid. However, if you do receive an invitation, it is a great honor and should be thankfully accepted, as invitations are only extended to those who are respected, loved, and are good luck.
Vietnamese see gifts of food as tokens of good luck that signify they will have an abundance of food in the next year. Such examples of appreciated foods are rice cakes, fruit, wine and, tea. Other good gifts are rice wine, new clothes, and red-colored items. However, some taboo items to watch out for are clocks, knives, or watches. Gifts for the Tet holiday should always focus on Vietnamese symbols of luck.
Business Etiquette Suggestions
Once Tet has begun, respect your Vietnamese friends by not calling, emailing, or texting about business. Hold onto any issues onto the next year and focus on sending positive and kind thoughts. To really go the extra mile, sending a gift is an unexpected, but appreciated, gesture.