Tet Nguyen Tieu – A Beautiful Wrap-Up Of The Lunar New Year

Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

For Vietnamese people, spring is the season of festivals and the festive atmosphere could last even further upon the Lunar New Year period. After the Lunar New Year period, Vietnamese people celebrate Tet Nguyen Tieu, or first full moon of the month, which is held on 15th day of the first lunar month. It traditionally marks the end of the Lunar New Year period and is celebrated throughout Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and China.  


What is Tet Nguyen Tieu? 

Tet Nguyen Tieu is considered as the last day of the Lunar New Year period and after that, all the new year taboos are no longer in effect. If you walk along streets in Vietnam, you may see people taking down their New Year decorations. Originally celebrated in China, known as Spring Lantern Festival and closely linked to Buddhism practice, however, Tet Nguyen Tieu in Vietnam brings its own distinctive cultural aspects of Vietnamese people. 

In Vietnam, Tet Nguyen Tieu is widely believed to be linked to the agricultural practices of Vietnamese farmers for thousands of years. It is before the Full Moon of the first Lunar month that the farmers have to work hard to prepare for the farming of the whole year. On the night of the first full moon, Vietnamese farmers will burn dried leaf to get rid of harmful pests. After such strenuous  tasks, the farmers will sit down and enjoy the beauty of the full moon. 

Vietnamese people believe that the first full moon night in the Lunar New Year is the most important full moon throughout the year. For many people, it marks the return of spring and symbolizes the reunion of family for those who do not manage to celebrate the Lunar New Year Eve with their family. 

What Vietnamese people do on the day of the First Full Moon?

  • On January 15th of the Lunar Calendar, families usually visit pagodas and wish for the best things for their family members and friends. 
  • Don’t be surprised if your host family eat vegan on this special day since vegan foods are supposed to bring peace in mind for the coming year. Vegetarianism is widely practiced on this day. 
  • Eating Banh troi nuoc is an important custom of the occasion in both Vietnam and China. Banh Troi Nuoc can look like ball-shaped dumplings made of glutinous rice flour and stuffed with white or brown sugar, sesame seeds, bean paste paste or a combination of ingredients. In Chinese, it is known as yuanxiao or tangyuan and is pronounced similarly to tuanyuan, meaning the happy get-together of the whole family. It is believed that the round shape of the cake and the bowls symbolize wholeness and reunion.  


  • In certain areas of Vietnam,  you may catch sight of colorful lanterns without having to travel to Hoi An. If you live in Ho Chi Minh City, you can have a breath of Vietnamese vibe at the Cultural Center of District 5. Lanterns are decorated and exhibited in a gorgeous way and hung up in rows along the streets, giving the sense of tranquility and nostalgia. 
  • In the North of Vietnam, Tet Nguyen Tieu can be more about paying remembrance to the ancestors. People will rush back and forth shopping for fruits and paper offerings to put up on the family altars. 

Being such a significant event in cultural and religious life of Vietnamese people, Tet Nguyen Tieu is a beautiful wrap up to the Lunar New Year Eve, when people will finally get over Post-Tet syndrome and be focused back on work. 

If you are in Vietnam this time of the year, don’t miss out the opportunity to have some banh troi nuoc!

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