Lunar New Year, or Tết, is coming this weekend! It's the new year celebration calculated by moon-based calendar, celebrated by most South East Asian countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, China, etc.
Different from Gregorian calendar that we use daily, Lunar calendar has 12 months with 30 days in each, and a leap year will have a whole intercalary month instead of February 29th. Usually, the beginning of a lunar new year falls in between the end of January and mid-February, depending on the leap month.
So what is Tết?
It's the largest festival in the year when the Vietnamese express their respect and remembrance for their ancestors as well as welcoming the new year with their beloved family members. To make it easier, it's like the Christmas-New Year break in America but without the religious cause. Typically a Tết break lasts two weeks.
The process of Tet can be described as below (all dates are based on lunar calendar)
1. Ông Công, Ông Táo Day (Kitchen God day) - December 23rd
2. Wrapping Chung cake (Sticky rice cake) - December 26-28th
3. Family reunion and Tất niên - December 30th
4. Giao thừa - New Year's Eve: including praying sessions to God and Ancestors, Xông đất (First visit to a family in the new year)
5. First three days of the new year: visit paternal side on the first day, maternal side on the second day and teachers on the third day
6. Visit relatives, friends and neighbours: can take place from January 3rd - 5th
7. Hóa vàng - burn the offerings near Tết's end for ancestors: January 4th
Disclaimer: this isn't real money but rather fake money that is burned in order for those who have passed over to have money to spend in the afterlife.
8. Reopen business: usually owners pick a good date that matches their age
This is my favorite season of the year! This year, 2017, is also the first year that Creighton University celebrates Tết, however the event is pushed back 1 week regarding to the original time frame. But that's no problem, please feel free to come enjoy Vietnamese traditional food and customs!