9 dos and don’ts of Tet: This cheat sheet will help you survive Vietnam's Lunar New Year

By Dang Hanh, Thanh Nien News

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Many Vietnamese believe that the first few days will set the tone for the whole year.
So they try to do everything that can bring them good luck and avoid all bad omens. 
This cheat sheet will help you navigate through the country's complicated set of customs often practiced during the Tet Lunar New Year holiday. 

 

Dos:
1. Give good luck wishes
Sức khỏe dồi dào” (Extremely good health) and “Tiền vô như nước” (Money coming in like water) are two of the most popular wishes shared among relatives and friends during the holiday.
Practice the wishes and say them to everyone you meet with a big smile, in order to bring them good luck.
To elders, there's another wish, “Sống lâu trăm tuổi” (Live long until 100 years old). Just make sure that the wish recipient is not 99 years old already. 
If those are too hard, at least say the most basic greeting: "Chúc mừng năm mới" (Happy new year).
2. Give lucky money
During Tet, children are given some lucky money. Therefore, prepare some red envelopes, of course with money inside, when you are invited to visit a Vietnamese family. 
More on this custom, please check out this particular guide to avoid any embarrassing moments. 
Tip:  US$2 dollar bills are trendy in recent years, because of the scarcity of the note.

Giving kids lucky money is a long-lasting custom during Tet.

3. Buy salt
Buying a small bag of salt is highly recommended in the New Year's Day, based on the belief that you will have a "tasty" energetic year. Otherwise, you may face an insipid, boring year.
Tip: Don't buy too much because you may want to avoid a year that is "too salty". So a small bag as a symbol will be enough. And, never bargain with salt sellers during the festival. 

Small bags of lucky salt for Tet.

4. Display lucky fruits
Certain fruits including custard apple, coconut, papaya and mango are recommended for Tet.
Their names, when put together, sound very similar to a prayer for a fruitful year: “Cầu vừa đủ xài” (Wish for just enough to spend). 
Because only the most reasonable prayers, which ask for “just enough”, are answered by the gods. 

A tray of lucky fruits will include at least a custard apple, a coconut, a papaya, and a mango. 

 
Don’ts:
1. Don't sweep houses
Sweeping your house is a taboo on the first three days of the new year because all your money and success will be swept out too. 
So don't touch the broom during those days. 
Tips: If you really need to clean up, just sweep your house from the front door into the kitchen, to bring money back inside. 
Otherwise, just use a vacuum cleaner. Modern life saves the day. 

Don't sweep your house during the first days of Tet.

2. Don't use profanity
Refrain from swearing and using unlucky words.
Bad words will haunt you for the whole year. Among the words in the blacklist are "die" and "sad".
Basically it's just common sense. 
3. Don't invite yourself
Xông nhà”, or being the first guest visiting a family, is an important custom during Tet.
Vietnamese believe that if a successful, charming guest enters their house, he or she will bring them good luck.
Tip: Only going to public places is a safe choice. Nobody wants to be blamed for bringing bad luck. 
4. Don't break glassware
Unless you want to have a “broken” year, be careful with your dining ware.
Tip: You may serve children with plastic plates and cups, to make sure everything is intact.

Be careful with your dining ware

5. Don't wear black and/or white
Since black and white clothes are often worn at funerals in Vietnam, people are supposed to avoid wearing these two colors on the first days of the year.
Tip: If you really want to wear that white shirt you really like, just add some colorful accessories, such as a pair of red shoes or a yellow hand bag. 

These are stylish, but just leave them at home during Tet.

 

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