Vietnamese New Year in a Nutshell
Tet holiday, also known as Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is celebrated throughout Vietnam. Tet is associated with good luck and fortune for the new year ahead.
The Tet Festival rings in the new lunar year in Vietnam and is considered to be the most important holiday in the country. The Vietnamese celebrate it by visiting family members and performing Tet rituals, which vary depending on the region.
Vietnamese people wear new clothes for Tet and often gather at ancestral homes where they perform ancestral worship ceremonies.
Tet is an opportunity to express gratitude for having enough throughout the year, and also offers people the chance to make resolutions and work on improving themselves.
Learn more about New Year in Vietnam, as well as how to say 'Happy New Year' in Vietnamese!
Get Ready to Give Gifts
Gift-giving is a big part of Vietnamese culture and over the course of Tet, people exchange gifts with family members, friends and business associates. Some traditional Tet gifts are symbolic of an auspicious future, while others are just plain fun or delicious.
Giving Tet gifts are especially important if you are visiting someone's house. Be sure to have good gifts on hand to mark the occasion of the biggest festival of the year.
For recipients of a Tet gift, it is also polite to reciprocate with a meaningful gift of your own.
If this is you, look no further, we have the 6 best and most meaningful gifts for Tet this year.
Modern and Traditional Gifts for Vietnamese New Year
1) Fruits, Flowers, and Plants - Perfect gifts For Prosperity
The Tet Holiday marks the welcoming of Spring, and signifies new beginnings, like planting seeds for a fruitful harvest at the end of the summer.
Tet arrives in late January or early February, to coincide with the first lunar month, and the Tet Festival is thereby a celebration of renewal after the harshness of winter. Thus, fruits, flowers, and ornamental plants, symbols of life and prosperity, make meaningful Tet gifts.
Ornamental plants are popular gifts during the Tet Festival. Such plants can include pussy willows, chrysanthemum, peach and plum blossom.
Yellow or red color flowers are believed to be lucky colors. Other colors that are bright and vivid are acceptable too.
It may be less practical to bring along many potted plants as you visit different households throughout the Tet holiday. Instead, you can give fruits and flowers, which will be seen as a meaningful Tet gift by any Vietnamese family.
The 'five fruit tray' gift filled with 5 different fruits with striking colors is always a good idea. For business contacts, you may want to include imported fruits or flowers to show you value the relationship. For parents and friends, it is best to gift them their favourite kind with your wish for their happiness and health.
2) Wine Bottles - The Right Gifts For Health
Wine, typically rice wine, has long been a traditional meaningful Tet gift for the lunar new year celebration. Rice wine made with ginseng or other Chinese herbs are seen as health boosters. Such wines are also drunk on special occasions, festivals, and weddings.
Nowadays, the Vietnamese also opt to gift European-style red or white wines and even spirits such as vodka or whiskey.
Wine, made from fruits of harvest, is a symbol of prosperity, additionally, wine is usually enjoyed during a gathering and gives the drinkers a feeling of warmth and togetherness, making it one of the most meaningful Tet gifts.
Add a good luck card to your wine hamper, and this would make a great gift for any house you will be visiting this Tet holiday. When visiting families, it would be nice to gift soft drinks for kids along with alcohol for the parents.
If you are coming from abroad, bring in foreign bottles for Tet gifts. This would be seen as more special and thoughtful. Otherwise, if you are in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, international brands of alcohol are easy to find and highly appreciated.
Related article: The best Vietnamese cocktails
3) Tea and Sweet Treats - Great Gifts For Kids And Families
Tea is always a good gift for any occasion in Vietnam, and is particularly a family-friendly gift, as parents and children can all enjoy it alike.
Tea is considered one of the most meaningful Tet gifts, as it is a symbol of health and longevity. Giving someone tea shows that you are grateful for them and that you care about their wellbeing. You may wish to select traditional teas from the Vietnamese Thai Nguyen tea region or imported teas with special flavours.
For Tet holiday, alongside tea, you can also give snacks and sweet treats as Tet gifts. The Lunar New Year is a time to have fun and be indulgent, hence tea is enjoyed along with tidbits and treats. This can include chocolates, cookies, traditional candies, dried fruits, nuts and more.
Related article: The most mouthwatering desserts from Vietnam.
4) Food Hampers - The New Year Gift For Everyone
If you are racking your brains for suitable Tet gifts for friends, family, or colleagues, the easy and thoughtful way out is getting them a food hamper!
Many hotels, supermarkets, departmental stores, and specialised Tet stores offer pre-made gift baskets filled with yummy things to eat and drink.
The best thing about the hampers is that the shop has already pre-selected treats and drinks that convey good fortune from the giver to the recipient. This can include a wide selection of the aforementioned items, along with luxury goods such as high-quality dried mushrooms, bird's nest drinks (a delicacy in Vietnam), and spirits.
Related article: The best Vietnamese cuisine to try on a visit to Vietnam.
5) Lucky Money (LÌ XÌ) - The Tet Gift Everyone Wants
Of course, lucky money or Li Xi in Vietnamese is the ultimate amongst Tet gifts. This is the practice of gifting money (usually new notes) in red packets. In Vietnamese culture, you give out red packets starting on the first day of the Lunar New year to children and seniors. Adult children also give their parents a red packet as a sign of respect and gratitude.
This custom is a way of conveying good luck, success, and happiness, and encourages the flow of prosperity for the whole year. An exchange of well-wishes accompanies the giving and receiving of li xi.
In Vietnam, it is also customary for people to gift red packets to service workers who help make your daily life easier. This could include security guards, cleaners, garbage collectors, concierge staff, drivers, and so on.
In general, you gift this lucky money just before the Tet Festival starts, as many of the workers will be making the trip back to their hometowns during the actual holiday. The gifts of money is much appreciated for their own Tet celebrations. If you wish, you may gift the li xi along with fruits or snacks.
How Much Lucky Money Should I Give?
In Vietnam, people often give up to 500,000 VND ($22 USD) for New Year lucky money.
6. Calligraphed Words (Vẽ Thư Pháp) - For A Feng Shui Gift
Along with the above list, an additional quirky fun gift you can bring is beautiful or lucky words written in calligraphy on red paper to bring good luck and wishes. Hanging them up can improve the Feng Shui of the house, and also serve as a festive decoration.
This special gift would of course make you an insider to Vietnamese traditions and put you in good standing with your host. Or use it to add Feng Shui to your own decor!
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! - Happy New Year
Ultimately, gift-giving is a way of expressing love, care, and concern, and the exchange of gifts during Tet strengthens the relationship between the giver and recipient.
As you can see from our list above, there are plenty of traditional Tet gift ideas that have been updated for the modern-day.
Flowers and plants are also amazing gifts during this event. Check them out here
For other occasions and more gift ideas, read on to find out our top Vietnamese gifts and souvenirs.
The team at Vietnam Is Awesome wishes you and your loved ones chúc mừng năm mới, good health and good luck for the Year of the Tiger!