Grace Celebrates Vietnamese New Year, Tet

  • Note: This post is created for Grace to read and share with her classmates.
  • Revised & Edited: 2/6/22
  • Reading level: 1-2

Lunar New Year 2022 is the year of the tiger! Vietnamese’s lunar new year is called Tet. Tet is celebrated similar yet different than Chinese new year. Like the Chinese New Year, we have lion and dragon dances, firecrackers, and red money envelopes called “li xi“. Unlike the Chinese new year, Vietnamese custom, traditional food, and clothing are different. This is my family with my dad, mom, and little brother at a Tet festival.

Mom’s mom is my favorite grandma. This is grandma with my four cousins and me. My little brother did not exist at the time.

Cleaning the House Before Tet

The three days before Tet is for deep cleaning and decluttering the house. Mom would clean the refrigerator, sweep and steam mop the floor, donate clothes, and declutter unwanted junks in the house. Next, she decorates the house for Tet. Then mom would prepare traditional food for the new year. Dad got it easy. He just needs to help mom clean the messy garage and mow the lawn.

Decorating for Tet

To decorate for the new year, mom said it’s a tradition to display apricot flowers. Mom tried to grow an apricot tree but it died. This was the apricot flower that bloomed in my mom’s garden.

Ever since mom’s apricot tree died, dad had to cut oak branches so mom could attach fake apricot flowers onto the branches to display for the new year. My creative and crafty mom would make the new year wishes and signs using red and glittering gold scrapbooking paper. The color gold symbolizes fortune, prosperity, and wealth and red symbolizes love and luck.

Decorations for Tet 2021
Tet decorations in 2022

Mom would stuff money in these red lucky envelopes we call “li xi”. The money are brand new and crisp bills of $2s, $5s, $10s, and $20s. Sometimes there would be a jackpot envelope with a $50 or $100 inside. After stuffing the new money into the red envelopes, mom would let my brother and me hang the envelopes onto the apricot flower branches.

One year, mom was lazy to put the fake apricot flowers onto oak branches for our money tree, so we decorated the Christmas tree and hang the li xi on the tree.

Traditional Clothing

During Tet, I like to wear a traditional Vietnamese dress called “áo dài”.

Grace is wearing a traditional Vietnamese áo dài.

Sometimes I like to wear a Chinese dress called “qipao”.

Traditional Food for Tet

Traditional food prepared and served on Tet are braised pork belly with eggs, steamed sticky rice cakes. The square shape rice cakes is called “bánh chưng” and the round rice cake is called “bánh tét.” The rice cakes can be savory or sweet. The savory sticky rice cake is served with pickled vegetables that my mom makes. Traditional fruits display for Vietnamese new year include sugar apples, coconuts, papayas, and mangos.

Going to the Tet Festival

I like going to the Tet festival at the Orlando Fairground in Florida. At the festival, I get to play games, jump in bouncy houses, and watch performances. I get to eat cotton candy at the festival too.

One of my favorite thing to do at the Tet festival is watching the lion and dragon dances. My brother and I sometimes get to feed the lion with red envelopes.

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