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February 2 2011

Can you guess why today’s image is all red? If you thought it represented German pop artist Nena’s “99 luftballoon”, you are wrong!

Today is the beginning of the Lunar New Year!

The Lunar New Year represents the beginning of the lunar calendar and is considered the one of the most important holidays for Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese families. The holiday is celebrated with family gatherings, gift giving, eating symbolic food, and displaying festive decorations – all representing good fortune for the new year and celebrating the coming of Spring.

Being Vietnamese myself, it’s a major holiday for my relatives filled with running children and delicious food. Speaking of food, here are some mouth watering photos :

Bánh chưng and bánh dầy: essentially tightly packed sticky rice with meat or bean fillings wrapped in Dong (Phrynium placentarium) leaves. When these leaves are unavailable banana leaves can be used as a subtitute. Bánh chưng (rectangular) and bánh dầy (circular) are symbolically connected with Tết and are essential in any Tết celebration. Preparation is time-consuming, and can take days to cook. The story of their origins and their connection with Tết is often recounted to children while cooking them overnight.



Speaking of Tet, here are some interesting do’s and dont’s that the Vietnamese people follow on New Years:


  • One should give people lucky presents to enhance the relationship between themselves and others: new clothes, peach branches (for expelling evil), cocks/chickens (wishing for good manners), new rice (wishing for being well-fed), rice wine in a gourd (wishing for a rich and comfortable life), bánh chưng (or bánh tét) and bánh dày which symbolize sky and earth (for worshipping the ancestors), red things (red symbolizes happiness, luckiness, advantages) like watermelon, dogs (the bark – gâu gâu – sounds like the word giàu – richness in Vietnamese language), medicated oil (dầu in Vietnamese, also sounds similar to giàu).
  • One should give lucky Dong Ho Paintings such as: “Gà đàn” (wishing for having many children), or “Vinh hoa”, but should not give unlucky Dong Ho paintings like “Đánh ghen” related to legal proceedings.
  • One should sprinkle lime powder around the house to expel evil.
  • One should return all things borrowed, and pay debts before Tết.


  • One shouldn’t say or do bad things during New Year.
  • One shouldn’t hurt or kill animals or plants but should set them free. The reason for this originates from Buddhism’s causality.
  • One shouldn’t sweep the house or empty out the rubbish to avoid luck and benefits going with it, especially on the first day of the new year. One shouldn’t let the broom in confusion if people don’t want it to be stolen.
  • One shouldn’t give these presents to others: clock or watch (the recipient’s time is going to pass), cats (mèo in Vietnamese language pronounced like nghèo, poverty), medicine (the receiver will get ill), cuttle fish (its ink is black, an unlucky colour), writing ink (for the same reason), scissors or knives (they bring incompatibility).
  • One shouldn’t have duck meat because it brings unluckiness.
  • One shouldn’t have shrimp in case one would move backwards like shrimp, in other words, one would not succeed.
  • One shouldn’t buy or wear white clothes because white is the colour of funerals in Vietnam.
  • One shouldn’t let the rice-hulling mill go empty because it symbolizes failed crops.
  • One shouldn’t refuse anything others give or wish you during Tết.



Written by lordsinsurancelog

February 3, 2011 at 8:23 am

Posted in Daily Quip