The last day of the year is also the most important day since people trying to finish all necessary remaining duty of the whole year and preparation for an upcoming year. The more carefully those works are done on the day, the more lucky family will get in a New Year. Below are five most common activities Vietnamese people often do on the last day of a Lunar New Year.
1. Cleaning and decorating house
Sweeping house on the first few days of Lunar New Year is avoided at all cost by Vietnamese people because traditional belief considers this action a way of driving away "Thần Tài". Thần Tài is the God of Luck who brings financial fortunes to families in a New Year so if he is expelled, the family would suffer from lots of financial difficulties. Therefore, although people are extremely busy as the year comes to end, everyone manages to clean ones’ house on the last day of the year.
Spending time with loved ones to tidy up and decorate the house
Houses are then re-decorated with Tet’s trees and flowers and tiny red ornaments as symbol of Tet. This is pretty similar to the way Western people decorating Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve.
2. Cleaning ancestor altar and setting “mâm ngũ quả”
While women in the family are busy with cleaning house or cooking, men, especially the father in his family are usually in charge of cleaning ancestor altar. In any Vietnamese heart, there is a strong spiritual relationship between deceased people and alive people; and ancestor altar is like a home or portal of them to come back to this world when worshiped. Due to this, cleaning ancestor altar is a way for Vietnamese to show respect to ancestors. The work is done in the most careful and meticulous way as well as using most fresh and clean water and sweeping tools.
Ancestor Altar as the most sacred place in the family
An indispensible decoration for ancestor altar in Tet is “mâm ngũ quả” (the tray of five fruits). The five fruits in five colors represent five natural elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth; each element also covers a meaning or can be said a wish for the New Year like wealthiness, luxurious, long-lived, healthiness and peace.
3. Tất Niên Meal - Year end gathering
The last meal of the year is also the most important one when every member of a family unites no matter how busy they are. During the cozy meal, the sentiment of the family is strengthened while members share all the feeling and experiences gained through the whole year together, from sadness to happiness. All the stresses seem to be dismissed in after the meal that the family is full of energy and happiness to welcome the New Year. The dinner is also the most delicious meal of the year thanks to lots of care and sentiment of mothers and sisters in the family are hidden inside a wide variety of Vietnamese traditional food.
Year end gathering is one of the rare chances for the extended family to summon
4. Watching TV shows
Entertaining TV shows are well designed by many Medias to encourage spirit of people as well as reducing waiting time to the New Year’s Eve. Besides special music shows or art show, the comedy show “Gặp nhau cuối năm” is highly appreciated by Vietnamese in which famous comedians play as kitchen gods explaining events of the year to the Jade Emperor in sarcastic way to bring meaningful laughs to people.
Tao Quan or Gap Nhau Cuoi Nam is usually the most expected show of the year
5. Praying on the Tet's Eve
At the moment when the old year pass and replaced by a new year, an indispensible tradition of every Vietnamese do is to pray in front of the family altar. This meaningful tradition is to call forth deceased spirit to unite with the family to welcome the New Year together. Most also take this opportunity to silently voice their wishes for a new year full of health, luck and joy. As the year turns, many families also gather around firework launching area to count down and celebrate the new year moment with freshly made friends.
Fireworks to celebrate Tet in Vietnam