Tet Traditions


Ancestral Homage Ritual
It is a Vietnamese tradition to pay homage to ancestors during Tet. With incense in hand, family members stand in front of the ancestral shrine, offer prayers and ask for blessings for the New Year. At the festival, elders dress in traditional costumes and represent the Vietnamese community in performing this ancient ritual.


Best Longevity Wishes For Our Elders
According to the Vietnamese culture, a person is considered to be one year older at the beginning of the New Year.  The Vietnamese celebrate each other’s birthday during Tet by giving “lucky money” in little red envelopes to children, li xi, and offering good wishes for longevity to the elders.  On behalf of the Vietnamese community, the Organizing Committee invites elders in the audience to come forward and to receive best longevity wishes.


Offering Prosperity to Children
Money in red envelopes signifies fortune, luck and happy wishes when given to children. Generally, children range anywhere from tiny little babes to an unmarried person.


Dragon Dance and Firecracker 


Dragon dances and firecrackers are popular traditions to mark special occasions.  The dance features unique and beautiful movements choreographed to portray the intricate interactions between the dragon and Ong Dia, the guardian of the earth and land.  With drums and gongs, Ong Dia spurs the dragons to greet the audience, eat, rest, and sleep.


Firecrackers enhance the performance of the dragon dance.  In the old days, firecrackers were used to expel evil spirits from villages and to bring forth happiness.  Nowadays, firecrackers are used to commemorate old traditions and to welcome visitors and the spirit of Spring.  The sounds of firecrackers reflect the animated spirit of Tet.


Source:  Ong Nhu Ngoc, Sketches of Tet Customs, Non Song, 28-34, January 1996.


Ao Dai, Ao Tu Than, Ao Ba Ba


Some children don the traditional costume, ao dai.  While others dress in ao tu than (originated in the North) or ao ba ba (from the South).  These three costumes are seen together in a folk dance about the three regions of Vietnam.