Edit ModuleShow Tags
Published:

What Têt, the Vietnamese New Year, Means to Me



What Têt, the Vietnamese New Year, Means to Me

Photo: Thinkstock/ aarondf2003


Happy New Year! I know it’s early February, but for those of us who celebrate Têt, the merriments have just come to a close. Têt is the most celebrated holiday in Vietnamese culture that rings in the beginning of the new year.  This differs from Western culture in that our new year starts with the first full moon of the new year. This year’s Vietnamese New Year started on January 28th.

I’ve shared a few family Têt recipes in the past, including Banh Têt and Che Dau Trang, with Stone Soup readers, but this year I wanted to share a little more on the traditions and happenings around the holiday itself. As I mentioned, Têt arguably is the most anticipated Vietnamese holiday and families prepare greatly for its arrival. This includes cooking and cleaning in the days leading up to the start of Têt. Most families continue the celebrations anywhere from one day up to a full week, so everything is done prior to the start of Têt so as not to interrupt the good times.

As I think back to childhood memories, Têt revelries immediately stick out to me. From the loud firecrackers to playing “Uncle Bao” to the red envelopes, Têt is a lively and joyful time. Aside from partying, everyone is on their best behavior to ensure the new year is ushered in with health, wealth and happiness.

As kids, we grew up in a part of Florida with a large Vietnamese population, so we would have a family meal together before heading out to partake in local Têt festivals. Our grandmother lived close by and would spend days putting together a decadent meal featuring all our favorite Vietnamese dishes.

Before leaving to watch the captivating dragon dances and firecrackers, we would gather around my uncle as he held out red envelopes for us to choose from. The red envelopes would be filled with money, but most importantly, symbolize the theme of Têt: happiness, luck and celebration. We’d also use any change we brought with us to play the new year game, Bầu cua cá cọp (squash, crab, fish, tiger). As the actual name for the game and one of our uncles is similar, we called this game Uncle Bao. It’s a dice game that involves placing bets on which animal we think will appear on the rolled dice. It’s a fun and addictive way to pass the time during Têt.

As my grandmother has now passed away, we often recall Têt memories as some of our favorite, since she gave it her all to make it such an enjoyable holiday for us. We’ve carried on the recipes she taught us, with a few modern twists I think would please her. I think it’s important to embrace these cultural celebrations because it’s a great way to share a piece of yourself with others.

Do you celebrate Têt? If so, I’d love to hear if any of our family’s traditions rang true in your home, too. If not, what are some of your favorite new year memories with your family? Thanks for reading and I wish you all a Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (Happy New Year) in 2017! 


Tessa Nguyen, RD, LDN, is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area of North Carolina. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn't traveling and discovering new restaurants, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the food and nutrition industries. Connect with her at Taste Nutrition Consulting and follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

Edit Module

More Stone Soup

Meatless Blue Ridge Nachos

Meatless Blue Ridge Nachos

You know the story: The work weeks are full of practices and homework, and the two short days of the weekend can fly by. When the weather suits it, my family's favorite weekend days are spent hiking on the challenging trails of our Blue Ridge Mountains and devouring laid-back meals with friends.
Does Health Information Overload Sabotage Real Health?

Does Health Information Overload Sabotage Real Health?

Nutrition counselors know how frustrating it can be to give advice without the desired outcome. We've seen our share of repeat customers and "dropouts." What's behind these results?
Going Green with a High-protein Diet

Going Green with a High-protein Diet

Beyond the weight loss benefits, soy-based interventions improved total and LDL cholesterol, whereas a meat-based diet did not.
7 Food Safety Tips for Seniors

7 Food Safety Tips for Seniors

I recently gave a talk to a group of senior citizens at an assisted living center near me. My topic was updated food safety recommendations — I highlighted the latest news in food science and emphasized the need to be vigilant about food safety practices.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Advertise with Food & Nutrition
Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags


Stone Soup

Guest bloggers from around the world share with Food & Nutrition Magazine.

About This Blog

Stone Soup is a guest blog written by members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Content — including information, recipes and views expressed — is that of the authors and does not reflect the positions or policies of Food & Nutrition Magazine or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Bloggers are required to pledge they will not write for Stone Soup on topics, companies or trade organization they currently represent or have represented at any time.

Learn about our guest blogs!

Comments Policy

Food & Nutrition Magazine provides this forum to exchange ideas, opinions and contributions within a positive community. Diverse viewpoints and constructive, respectful dialogue are welcome. Rudeness, misinformation, self-promotion and abuse are not. We reserve the right, without warning or notification, to remove comments and block users we determine violate this policy or our Terms & Conditions. You must include your name or be logged into a personal account on Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to comment.

Archives

Edit Module

Get Stone Soup in Your RSS

Use your RSS reader's instructions to add Stone Soup to your list:

Atom Feed Subscribe to the Stone Soup Feed »

Get Our Blogs in Your Email

Stone Soup
Student Scoop