Saigon wears her yellow garb during Tết (Tết Nguyên Đán) or the Vietnamese lunar new year. Every nook and cranny is filled with pots and planters full of Chrysanthemums, sunflowers, Hoa Mai ( Ochna integerrima/ yellow apricot flowers) and marigolds. The colour of prosperity and cheer fills the town. Local markets and flower markets are thronged with hundreds of people just before the new year day. Red is another prominent colour during tet. Today is the first day of the lunar new year.
cau doi- decorative red banners with couplets-hanging everywhere
Signature Tet flowers
Vietnamese celebrate Tết with great zest and never fail to be with their family for the one week long new year celebrations. The city looks almost deserted on new year day as most of the families go to their hometowns to be with their family members,cooking special tet dishes, paying obeisance to the Kitchen God and other gods, visiting pagodas and honouring their ancestors.
Hoa Mai plants in full bloom, fruit bearing kumquat or Clementine shrubs are essential for each household and business centre.
Gorgeous Hoa Mai blossoms are the signature tet flowers in the South.
Fabulous Hoa dao or peach blossoms, Northerners’ favourite
fruit bearing kumquat
Fabulous pink peach flowers or Hoa Doa are the signature Tet blossoms in North Vietnam. Tet is incomplete without marumi kumquat/ citrus japonica. The shrubs full of fruits are a symbol of good luck, prosperity and gaiety.
ornately carved coconuts and grape fruits
The five fruit platter is another indispensable offering at the altars during Tet. Fruits in the tray vary from region to region. Many exotic fruits as well as uniquely shaped pomelos, watermelons and coconuts with new year wishes engraved on them are aplenty in the markets.
square shaped watermelon and gold bullion shaped ones
Buddha’s hand fruits and wine gourd shaped pomelos
People bustling around in the markets and streets
Bustling flower markets where hoa mai and hoa dua are for sale
Very similar to Kerala’s new year customs Vietnamese children too would receive Lucky Money (Li xi) from their elders. Tet is the biggest festival in Vietnam; it is a festival of family reunion, exchanging gifts, dining together, remembering one’s ancestors and welcoming the new year.
Envelopes in red and gold to keep Li Xi or lucky money
May this Year of the Dog bring good luck, happiness, health, peace and prosperity to all of us!