One of the festivals occurring during the first part of the year is Tet, the Lunar New Year Festival; the event takes place in Vietnam between late January and early February, depending on the Lunar Calendar. This year Tet will fall on January 23rd, 2012, and it will be the year of the Dragon. Tet Vietnamese Lunar New Year is the most important Festival of Vietnamese people.
Although the festival officially lasts for three days, festivities may continue for a week or more with every effort made to indulge in eating, drinking, and enjoyable social activities. However, this time is also invested in family reunions, and for paying respect to ancestors, and the elders. Gifts of food are given to friends, neighbors, and relatives in the days before Tet.
The Tet of the New Year is also an opportunity for the household spirits to meet, those who have helped throughout the year, such as the Craft Creator, the Land Genie, and the Kitchen God. But this event is also a chance to invite and welcome deceased ancestors back for a family reunion with their descendants to join the family's Tet celebrations.
This tradition has become revered and secular; thus, no matter where they are or whatever the circumstances, family members find ways to come back to meet their loved ones, gather for a dinner of traditional foods like bánh ch?ng (a square cake made of sticky rice stuffed with beans and pork), m?ng (a soup of boiled bamboo shoots and fried pork) and xôi g?c (orange sticky rice).
Everyone is anxious to get a haircut, buy new clothes, clean up their homes, visit friends, settle outstanding debts, and stock up on traditional Tet food. Even places of business hang festive red banners which read "Chuc Mung Nam Moi" (Happy New Year) and city streets are decorated with colored lights. There are booths all over town to sell mut (candied fruits and jams), traditional cakes, and fresh fruit and flowers. Some markets sell nothing but cone-shaped kumquat bushes, while others sell flowering peach trees, symbols of life and good fortune which people bring into their homes to celebrate the coming of spring.
Tet represents the essence of Vietnam; by honoring this festivity and celebrating the New Year aptly, Vietnamese will make sure to have a prosperous year.