[The 7-day Tet series] Day 5 – The Meaning Of Vietnamese Traditional Dishes In Tet Holiday

Tet is a time for everyone in the family to reunite after a year of hard work. Therefore, the feast of the Tet Holiday also needs to be prepared very well. For Vietnamese people, meals on the first day of the year must be plentiful, not only expressing prosperity and happiness but also wishing for a full and prosperous New Year. Those foods were all prepared to be worshipped before on the ancestral altar on New Year’s Eve and on the first day of the new year.

Moreover, in the Vietnamese language, Tet is not literally celebrated, but “eaten” instead! In Vietnam, ăn Tết (eat Tet) is understood as to celebrate Tet. This shows how important food and cuisine is to Vietnamese New Year. On Tet days, Vietnamese people often prepare a lot of food because this is a time when they often have many guests/friends/family visiting and wish wishes for the new year, so they must always have food to treat the guests.

Vietnamese people have a very good habit of saving, which are reflected by the regular meals – rice with the main dishes (meat or fish/shrimp), a vegetable food and a bowl of soup. Vietnam food is thus often jokingly labelled “food for peasants”. However, this statement no longer holds water during Tet holiday, when Vietnamese let themselves taste more protein-rich and sophisticated made dishes.

Following are the most typical food found in Vietnamese’ Tet holiday:

  1. Banh Chung/ Banh Tet – pickled onions

    Thịt mỡ dưa hành câu đối đỏ.
    Cây nêu tràng pháo bánh chưng xanh.

    Fat meat, pickled onions, red parallel sentences.
    New Year pole, strings of firecrackers, green Banh Chung.

    Ask anybody in Vietnam which food comes to their mind first when talking about Tet. I’m sure that the answer is banh chung and banh tet (it’s tét, not Tết, the festival). While both of this banh is essentially rice, fatty pork and bean fillings packed neatly inside green banana leaves or dong leaves, there’s some obvious difference between them. In general, banh chung is an iconic Tet food in Northern Vietnam. Meanwhile, banh tet usually represents Southern Vietnam.

    This is the cake in Vietnam food culture since long time ago. According to the old legends, banh chung appeared on the Hung dynasty. This cake symbolizes the ground expressing gratitude to the ancestors and the earth, sky. Besides, it emphasizes the important role of rice and nature in water rice culture. In contrast to the fast food in modern life, the process of making banh chung is time-consuming and requires the contribution of several people. Family members often take turns to keep a watch on the fire overnight, telling each other stories about Tet of past years.
    Banh Chung is made of sticky rice, pork meat and green bean, every ingredient is wrapper inside a special leaf which calls Dong. Making the Banh Chung requires care and precision in every step. The rice and green bean have to be soaked in water for a day to make it stickier. The pork meat is usually soaked with pepper for several hours. Squaring off and tying the cakes with bamboo strings require skilful hands to make it a perfect square.
    To eat Banh Chung you should combine with pickled onions to add the sour taste of food and makes it more digestible. Banh Chung and pickled onions have become must-have dishes on the occasion of Tet.

  2. Gio/ Cha – Frozen meat
    Gio Cha (Vietnamese ham/sausage) is another traditional food in Tet holiday and usually served with Xoi (sticky rice) and Banh Chung. Gio is different from Cha since Gio is boiled and Cha is deep-fried. Vietnamese people make Gio from lean meat, added fish sauce and covered by leaves then boiled for hours. Cha is also made of lean pork and ingredients, but Cha is not wrapped by leaves and boiled but deep-fried in oil. Cha just survives for some days when Gio can last for a month due to its covers. There are many kinds of Gio, categorized by its origins: Gio Lua (made from pork), Gio Ga (made from chicken), Gio Bo (made from beef). All these types are used not only in Tet holidays but also over the year.

    In Lunar New Year, especially in the northern regions, Frozen meat is also an indispensable dish in Vietnamese trays. A piece of frozen meat like a transparent jelly symbolizes clarity, good luck all year. The blend and linkage between the components in frozen meat express harmony and be a blessing for those who loved, in love and will love.

  3. Ga Luoc
    Thit ga (boiled or steamed chicken) plays an important role in Tet holiday cuisine because all the tribute meals to the ancestors must contain a boiled chicken, whole or chopped. Besides, people believe that boiled chicken symbolizes prosperity, wellbeing. Therefore, Starting a new year with boiled chicken will be lucky all year. Chicken meat in Tet meals are various in forms: usually, chicken is boiled and sliced, but sometimes people can place the whole chicken in a plate, or nowadays some families use roasted or fired chicken to replace the original boiled ones. Chicken meat is served with Xoi (sticky rice) and Banh Chung, and become one of the most popular main dishes in Tet holidays. Boiled chicken always goes with sliced lemon leaves and salt-and-pepper sauce, as a tradition. Chicken (especially bones, legs and heads) can be used to prepare the broths for other soups.

  4. Mut Tet & other snacks
    Mut is an indispensable treat during the Lunar New Year Festival. Everyone prepares a box of colourful candied fruits at home to give visitors, the gift to friends and family, and offer to ancestors. Mut Tet (Tet jam) is not a food to serve in a meal during Tet holiday, but more like a snack to welcome guests in this special period. Mut is always kept in beautiful boxes and placed at the table in the living room, and it is the main food for the owners and guests to taste when they’re talking, enjoyed over a cup of tea. Unlike Western jam, which is usually in liquid form and served with bread, “Vietnamese jam” is mainly in dry form, usually dried fruits and some kind of seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds).

    It is a simple process and the ingredients are all readily available like coconut, ginger, sweet potato, kumquat, tamarind, and pineapple. They also have health benefits. For instance, having a few pieces of candied ginger will help digestion, while candied kumquat, which is often eaten with the peel helps relieve sore throats and ease hangovers. The candied lotus seeds are used for relieving stress and getting a good night’s sleep. Ever had roasted melon seeds? They go perfectly with a cup of tea. To eat them, you use your front teeth and dig out the tasty centre. It’s a bit of work, but you’re with friends, so there’s no hurry.

  5. Five-fruit tray (Mam Ngu Qua)

    The five-fruit tray is a must-have on the ancestral altar on New Year’s Eve and on the first day of the new year. The exact selection varies through time, region, and even the house owner’s preference. However, they must be of a different colour as the five-fruit tray also plays an important role in decoration for Tet.
    The number must be five (ngũ – năm) because of the concept of five fruits represents the five blessings: Phú – Quý – Thọ – Khang – Ninh ( Wealthy – luxurious – long-life – healthy – safe) and the five elements (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth).

    mâm ngũ quả daotaobeptruong

    Why is this five-fruit tray needed in Tết?
    The five-fruit tray of the New Year has a common meaning which is to show respect and to wish for good things in the new year. However, the way of presenting five fruits on the Tet holiday of three different regions is different. In the South, there are usually Custard (mãng cầu), Fig (sung), Coconut (dừa), Papaya (đu đủ) and Mango (xoài – xài). Watermelon, pineapple, tangerine, dragon fruit can also be added to the tray for more colours and more blessing (from the radiant colours). Normally, people will have 2 watermelons on the altar because of its lucky red colour. They believe that the red in watermelon will bring well-being throughout the year.
    Why these fruits?
    The names of these fruits can be put together into the phrase “Cầu sung vừa(dừa) đủ xài (xoài)”
    Cầu – pray for/ wish
    Sung/Sung túc – wealthy
    Vừa đủ – enough
    Xài – use/spend
    which means “(we) wish that the money in the new year will be enough for consumption and a fulfilled life.”.
  6. Thit Kho Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
    Among the familiar dishes on Tet holiday in Saigon, perhaps braised meat with coconut milk is the most familiar dish also known as raised meat with duck eggs (Thit Kho Trung) or braised meat (Thit Kho Tau). On the days of Tet, any family in the South will have a pot of meat and eggs. Bacon has only three layers of lean and fat is stored with eggs, coconut milk with attractive brown colour, beautiful. Can be eaten with pickles or Banh Chung/Banh Tet are very delicious.
    The reason for this is that Vietnamese celebrate TET for days on end and so during the first 3 TET days, there will be no market, no restaurant. The first TET days, people only rely on home-cooked dishes. This braised egg and pork belly dish can last a long time and since its taste is light and delicate in the beginning, after enduring being heated and reheated several times, the sauce will be reduced and the pork belly and eggs will become saltier over time.


[The 7-day Tet series] Day 4 – “Du Xuân” Let’s go spring travel!!

Spring is not only the most beautiful season but also the season of the festival, imbued with Vietnamese cultural identity. From past to present, Vietnamese New Year always has good customs on Tet such as picking fortune, travelling spring … Moreover, It is believed that the first director you go on the first day of the year is also very important, this direction will affect the person’s future in the coming year. People often look at books, learn folk experiences, and then look at calendar books to choose a departure direction for them to have the best luck and convenience in the new year.

These practices are very meaningful and bring peace, happiness and luck in the new year. Let’s find out where Vietnamese people usually go this time of the year.

1.Flower Market

As the cycle of creation, the spring begins a new year with these proliferating creatures… Ever since the spring flower market has become a familiar springtime destination for everyone at the end of the year. It seems that the flower market has become an indispensable tradition in the Tet holiday. People go to the flower market not only to choose a peach branch, apricot pot, but also a chance to find moments of relaxation in the soul, hoping for warm, happy spring and welcoming the new year together.

Here are addresses of some flower markets that you can visit now


  • Van Phuc flower market: Van Phuc Street, Van Phuc, Ha Dong, Hanoi
  • Tay Tuu flower market: Tay Luu, Tu Liem, Hanoi
  • Quang An flower market: 236 Au Co, Quang An, Tay Ho, Hanoi

For more address of Flower market in Hanoi, click here

Ho Chi Minh:

  • Gia Dinh Park: Hoang Minh Giam, Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City
  • 23/9 Park Flower Market: Le Lai Street, Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Ben Binh Dong Flower Market: Ta Quang Buu Street, Ward 14, District 8, Ho Chi Minh City

For more address of Flower market in Ho Chi Minh, click here

2. “Đi chùa hái lộc” – Go to the temple to pick buds

In the mind of Vietnamese people for many generations now, Tet not only has the meaning of seeing off the old year, welcoming the new year but also bearing spiritual and religious features. In addition to the custom of worshipping the ancestors, people often look to temples and pagodas to pray for blessings and luck for their families with wishing for the best in the new year.

At the time of New Year’s Eve or the first day of the New Year, people go to the temple to pick up a branch of young buds to bring home, wishing to be blessed by the divine and holy Buddha with fortune and good luck throughout the year.

These are very small buds on the trunks with strong vitality such as si, fig, banyan … They bring them, hang them on the porch or plugin a vase, there are places still hanging in the middle of the door to eliminate the devil, or intended to announce that he had brought blessings home. According to researchers on national culture, Picking buds is a beautiful cultural feature of the Vietnamese people, in the moment of harmony between heaven and earth, picking the buds home is what many people like, it is the concept of wanting to bring good things, dispelling the unlucky things in the old year, hoping for good things to come in the new year …

Today, in the temples, to protect the trees in the temple and make it possible for everyone to pick the buds, people will replace the buds with small red envelope and hung on the branches.

Going to the temple ceremony at the beginning of the year is not simple to wish but it is also a time for people to find their spiritual place after hard-working days, looking for peace, getting rid of the sadness of the old year.


[The 7-day Tet series] Day 3 – What should I wear on Tet holiday?

Every Tet holiday comes when people and families are busy shopping for Tet, in which beautiful costumes are always the first priority items to buy. Everyone wants to have a beautiful outfit that stands out to go out on Tet. Not only that, On the first day of the year, wearing age-appropriate items according to old people’s conception makes a year more fortunate. So today we will help you choose the right clothes to wear on Tet Vietnam.

As well as the proverb “Pray for holiness. Be patient for good”. According to Vietnamese beliefs, on the first day of spring, we should wear clothes with colors that match our age. Choosing a color for a shirt/cloth to wear on the first day of the new year helps people avoid bad luck and get lucky for the new year. So to better suit feng shui (geomancy) as well as have luck for the whole year, it is also important to wear colors that match your age on the first day of the year. So, what color shirt/cloth should you wear on the 1st of the year 2021 so that can help 12 zodiacs can get lucky in business and life, let’s check the picture below.

As for costumes, Tet is a Vietnamese traditional holiday, so this is also an opportunity for people to wear traditional Vietnamese costumes, namely Ao Dai. Ao Dai is a kind of innovative outfit that was changed and stylized from the five-body shirt (Áo ngũ Thân) (with a stand-up shape, or standing neck) of the Westernization period, also known as the New period. Usually, the ao dai will be for both men and women, but it is more popular with women. With the development and changes, Vietnam Ao Dai also has many different shapes.

1. Traditional Ao Dai (Áo Dài truyền thống): Traditional ao dai usually has to be tailored to the size of each person, Vietnamese people will buy fabric and bring it to a professional Ao Dai tailor to sew according to their size.

However, Due to the growth and today’s demand, there are also many brands and shops that also have ready-to-wear Ao Dai.

2. Innovative Ao Dai (Áo Dài Cách Tân): Most women think that the traditional ao dai is too long and cumbersome to function every day, especially at work that has to move a lot and constantly. Along with that, the weather in Vietnam is quite hot, so the traditional ao dai costume is no longer suitable to become ordinary clothes like in the past. That is why the modern innovative ao dai came into existence.
In addition, for girls whose body is not very balanced, wearing traditional ao dai on important occasions is not easy. Others can always have difficulty, having problems with the design of the shoulder and waist buttons that are easy to open, which is inconvenient for the wearer.
Understanding these things, changing the ao dai to suit the new and modern lifestyle is extremely necessary. “Innovating” ao dai is also the goal of bringing attractive and beautiful outfits; while creating more convenience and comfort for the wearer. And of course, these factors have met the needs of Vietnamese women and have gradually become the Ao Dai designs of the new era, easy to buy, easy to wear, and easy to use.

Ao Dai Vietnam also has models for men and children


Here is some address that you can buy Áo Dài for you and your family:

  • HANOI: Floor 3 – 172 Yen Lang, Dong Da, Hanoi
  • HO CHI MINH: 135/37 Tran Hung Dao, Cau Ong Lanh, District 1, HCMC – 147 De Tham, Co Giang, District 1, HCMC
  • DA NANG: 4th Floor, Building A, 72 Ham Nghi, Thanh Khe, Danang


Website: https://ceilio.vn/collections/ao-dai

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ceilio.hn/

  • HANOI: 8 Ton Duc Thang – Hanoi
  • HAI PHONG: No. 1 Hang Kenh – Hai Phong City
  • HO CHI MINH: 1C P8 Q3 Ly Chinh Thang- HCMC


Website: https://www.magonn.com/collections/ao-dai

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MagonnDesign 

  • HANOI:
    – 110 Thai Ha
    – 106B H3 Thanh Cong
    – 76 Ba Trieu
    – 15 Lot 11, Trung Hoa street, Cau Giay
    – 41 Hai Ba Trung, District 1
    – 240 Vo Van Tan, District 3
    – 105 Nguyen Trai, District 1

4. Tiem Huu la la

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tiemhuulalaa

  • HANOI: 02 General House, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi.
  • HO CHI MINH: 185F Cong Quynh. Q1. Saigon.

5. Áo dài by Quyên Nguyễn_ Sài Gòn

Website: https://quyennguyen.vn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AoDaiThietKeSaiGon/

  • HANOI: 84 Mai Hac De, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi.
  • HO CHI MINH: 115 Ho Van Hue, Ward 9, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City.

You can check more address for Ao Dai here

3. Besides Ao Dai, Vietnam also has renovated old costumes that you can wear in Tet holidays such as “Áo nhật bình” and “Áo Ngũ Thân” (Ancient Ao Dai)


[The 7-day Tet series] Day 2 – Pink or Yellow, which team are you in?

Tet decoration is one of the most important Vietnamese customs. Decorate homes on Tet holiday to dispel bad things and welcome new fortune into the house. Not only that, Tet is usually an occasion when many guests come to the house and give New Year wishes, the house cannot be messy to welcome guests. Being praised by the guests coming to the house on the occasion of the new year, those are also the “golden” words that help the homeowner believe that this year he will meet more joy and luck.

Vietnam people use to said, “Tết Đến Xuân Về” (Tết Come, Spring return), therefore, Tet is an occasion to mark the return of spring – the season of sprouting tree and blooming flowers. So that, during such happy days, everyone wants to decorate the house with all kinds of plants and flowers. Tet flowers are endless with all kinds of flowers such as Gladiolus, marigold, chrysanthemum, persimmon … but typical plants and flowers are only encapsulated in two things: Northern Peach and Southern Yellow Apricot. It is because the Peach blossom loves cold weather and can only live in the north and the apricot blossoms like the warm sun of the south.

For the Northern people, when referring to Tet, people will immediately think of peach blossoms – flowers only bloom in the spring, to serve the Lunar New Year. In the old days, in order to prevent the devil from disturbing life, people thought of a way to break peach branches and put them in jars. Accordingly, just seeing the peach branch, the demons will run away, not near the house anymore. In addition, peach blossoms are also a symbol of innovation, proliferation and strong development, it can bring a new source of vitality, helping everyone in the house to be healthy, peaceful and everything goes well in the New Year.

The North has peach blossoms, the South has apricot blossoms. The yellow colour of apricot blossom has long been considered a symbol of wealth. People display apricot flowers on the occasion of Tet with the wish of a new year of prosperity and wealth. According to the opinion of many people, the more petals blooming in a house, the luckier and more prosperous that the house is in the new year.  In the concept of the five elements, the yellow colour is Earth (earth), located in the centre, bringing together Kim, Moc, Thuy, Hoa (metal, wood, water, fire), representing the ability reproduction. The apricot blossom has 5 petals, representing 5 good things in life: happiness, luck, longevity, success and peace.

In addition to floral decorations, Vietnamese also decorate their homes for the New Year with fruits and other red and yellow decorations.

Therefore, in the house of Vietnamese people on Tet holidays, there is always an apricot tree or a peach tree and a Quat tree decorated with red envelopes as the belief and wish for a lucky, prosperous new year, happy, warm and full. In addition, the Vietnamese also decorate these flowers with red couplets, small lantern, New year greeting card or small fireworks to increase the red colour for the new year.



[The 7-day Tet series] Day 1 – Tet Tao Quan

Dear Beluxcham Members,

Lunar New Year or Tết Nguyên Đán, is Vietnam’s most significant celebration. Across Vietnam, during this time families reunite and honour their ancestors, while praying for luck, prosperity and health in the new year. If you have been in Vietnam and have experienced Tet in Vietnam,  you will find that before Tet and in the days of Tet, Vietnam people have a lot of traditions are preserved and handed down to the present day.

So why have these practices and what is the story behind these practices? To help our members understand more about Vietnamese “Tết” holidays, starting today, we will bring you the 7-day Tet series, every day we will introduce practice and story behind it

Today is the day Vietnamese people send Mr Tao back to heaven. According to Vietnamese’s folk beliefs, Mr Tao or “Tao Quan” is derived from three gods: the God of Soil, the God of House and the God of Kitchen.  However, instead of calling the name of 3 Gods, Vietnamese people generally call them as “Tao Quan” (understood commonly as The God of Kitchen).  And on the 23rd day of the lunar calendar, Mr. Tao drive Golden carp back to heaven to report everything in the house of the owner to the Jade Emperor (emperor of the heavens), the Jade Emperor either rewards or punishes a family based on Mr. Tao’s yearly report. Until noon on the 30th of December (Lunar Calendar) or the moment of New Year’s Eve, The Kitchen God returns every house to continue his job of looking after the stove in the kitchen.

Therefore, Mr. Cong – Mr Tao is the god that governs all activities of the owner, is the god that determines the luck and happiness of the whole family. Also, the God of Kitchen prevents the intrusion of ghosts and devils into residential land to keep the peace for everyone in the house.

The custom of worshipping Mr. Cong Mr. Tao is one of the cultural features of Tet holiday that has been preserved for many generations of the Vietnamese people. This is also the custom of expressing gratitude to the gods who have been taking care of the year-round to maintain family routines, and at the same time remind each person to be more responsible in caring for the family.

In these days, families in Vietnam will clean the kitchen, buy goldfish to worship and see Mr. Cong and Mr. Tao back to heaven.

It is believed that Mr. Cong – Mr. Tao represents three clay cubes used to place the pot on the old stove, two of which are smaller than the other. This is considered the influence of the custom of worshipping fire god, a long-standing custom.

Furthermore, In Vietnam, the legend of “The God of Kitchen” has been orally transmitted and recorded as follows:

Once for a while, there was a very poor family. The husband’s name was Trong Cao and the wife’s name was Thi Nhi. Despite getting married to each other for such a long time, they had no children, which led to their frequent quarrels every day.

One day, Trong Cao was so angry with his wife that he hit her. Being so angry, Thi Nhi left her house and met a man called “Pham Lang” who soon attracted Thi Nhi by his honeyed words. Then, Pham Lang and Thi Nhi set up house together. When Trong Cao was no longer angry with Thi Nhi, he immediately looked for his wife everywhere. However, his wife was found nowhere. Being so disappointed, he gave up his job and went everywhere as a mendicant to seek for his wife.

One day, Trong Cao went to a prosperous household and begged for foods, and the mistress of the house brought some cooked rice to the door to give him. Accidentally, two people recognized each other. Falling under Pham Lang’s suspicion, Thi Nhi was so ashamed that she rushed headlong into the burning fire to kill herself. Trong Cao was sympathetic towards his ex-wife, so he also rushed to the fire to die. Pham Lang also jumped into the fire to die together with his wife.

The God was so touched to see the love of Trong Cao, Thi Nhi and Pham Lang that he appointed three of them to be “Tao Quan” and assigned each person a job:

-Phạm Lang is “Tho Cong” (the God of Kitchen who looks after cooking job)

-Trọng Cao is “Tho Dia” (the God of Soil who takes care of family affairs)

-Thị Nhi is “Tho Ki” (the God who sees to the matters related to shopping in the market)