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Celebrating Tet in Da Nang

Starting next week the Lunar New Year in Vietnam, Tet. An annual tradition, Tet is a celebration to remember the passing year and welcome the New Year with auspicious meals as well as spending time with family and friends. The Vietnamese New Year begins when the New Moon arrives to start the Lunar New Year in late January or early February.

Tet in Vietnam is a very unique festival to experience with many delicious dishes only prepared during the two-week period. During this time, the country can seem quite different with airports, trains and roads overloaded as people make their annual pilgrimage to hometowns. Shops and restaurants may close for days, or even weeks, to allow staff time off to celebrate with families. However, do not be discouraged to visit at this time, as there is much to see and do during the Vietnamese New Year.

Welcome the Year of the Dog

In 2018, Vietnam celebrates the arrival of the Year of the Dog. In Vietnamese culture (and neighboring countries), the years are represented by animals (zodiacs) which often hold meaning to persons born to specific animals. There are twelve animals which repeat every twelve years. For those born last year (2017), they were born in the year of the Rooster and are often associated with a self-righteous personality.

For those born in the Year of the Dog (1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018), they are often considered very loyal and faithful. However, persons born under the zodiac of the dog may also have negative traits like being constantly worried or nervous without reason. Trust is most important to those born in the Year of the Dog.

A Time for Gathering

Tet in Viet Nam has been a significant festival for countless generations, and at its heart it is a time to show respect to living and passed generations. Even during the weeks leading up to the New Year, citizens of Vietnam spend time to clean their homes, prepare offerings and prayers for ancestors.

When walking the streets of Danang at this time, you will without a doubt smell incense in the air and see tables set outside full of delicious meals, overflowing drinks, and red candles. These are offerings to the Kitchen Guardians that watch over the home, as well as their ancestors. In addition, you will see people burning paper that look like money, homes, cars, and even phones. These offerings are being passed onto for the ancestors to use on their journey in the afterlife.

The first day of the Lunar New Year is spent with family members and often includes a visit to the family graveyard to clean ancestors’ graves and offer prayer. Throughout the first day, the family shares meals and spends time celebrating the arrival of the New Year. Older generations will often give children red envelopes called “lixi” which contains lucky money, but only after children greet their elders with a special Tet greeting “Chúc Mừng Năm Mới” (Happy New Year).

On the second and third days of Tet in Vietnam, people spend time visiting relatives, neighbors, and friends. During this time there is an over abundance of food and drink shared. Each home ensures that no one leaves without feeling full. It is a truly a joyous season and represents the tone for the year to come.

The Importance of Color

The Vietnamese New Year has some minor variations throughout the country. In Hanoi, families will often place a blooming peach tree in their homes. While in the south, people will place the more common apricot tree in their homes. Danang homes often follow the southern tradition with a blooming apricot tree with bright yellow petals placed in the home.

It is interesting to note that the apricot tree is often believed to blossom around the end of the lunar year just in time to welcome the Lunar New Year in Viet Nam with golden petals.

Much like the rest of the country, citizens in Danang mark the arrival of the New Year with new clothes often in vibrant colors. The most common site is the beautiful and flowing ao dai dress worn by women. This spectacular dress can be seen at the local flower festivals held in many of the cities. Men typically wear a new suit. Once the whole family is dressed, they often make a short pilgrimage to the local pagoda.

Visiting Danang During Tet

Although many shops and sites close for Tet, visiting Danang during this time can be a grand experience. Here is a brief list of activities for you to experience during the holiday:

1)      Walk Along the Han River

song han river

During Tet, the Han River is adorned with a vibrant garden featuring colorful flowers and beautiful decorations. Take a stroll along Bach Dang Street for the best experience. Start at the Dragon Bridge and walk North along Bach Dang for the best experience. The two largest gardens on the river are located near the Dragon Bridge and near the Danang City Committee building.

2)      Visit Ba Na Hills

bà nà hill

An annual tradition of Ba Na Hills is a flower festival within the amusement park. Located in the mountains, this cool mountain resort features a selection of rides, games and picnic areas, a perfect destination for families. During Tet, the annual flower festival makes this a must-see destination. Tours are available to Ba Na Hills and can be arranged through the concierge.

3)      Stroll the quiet streets of Hoi An

hội an

Things take a slower pace on streets during the Lunar New Year in Viet Nam. This is a perfect time to take advantage of the empty streets by visiting the ancient city of Hoi An, just south of Danang. With few motorcycles on the narrow streets, you can take some amazing photos of the classic buildings and witness families stroll the quaint corridors dressed in their typical ao dai dresses and new suits.

4)      Visit the Pagodas in Da Nang City

The pagodas of Danang take on a different atmosphere during Tet with a little more activity. It can be interesting to see famous pagodas like Linh Ung Pagoda on Son Tra Peninsula during the peak period, as the spacious courtyards are filled with Vietnamese making offerings, praying and spending quality time with family.

5)      Wander the Streets of Danang

Like Hoi An, the streets are a bit quieter and can take on a new atmosphere with cheers of celebration from coming from each hẻm (alleyway). Be sure to greet people you meet with a cheerful “Chúc Mừng Năm Mới” (Happy New Year), and be sure to try some of the unique dishes prepared just for Tet.

To reach any of these destinations from Samdi Hotel near the Da Nang airport, please discuss with the concierge for transportation assistance, as many of these sites are located outside the city limits.

We wish you a very prosperous new year and hope you enjoy your visit to Danang during the Lunar New Year in Vietnam.