Vietnamese Tet in the Northern – Southern region

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

(National Times) – Every spring comes, Tet is a special occasion for everyone. By the big festival of the country, people in the North and the South of Vietnam have different ways to celebrate Tet.

Lunar New Year(Tet) likes the Family Festival in Viet Nam. It’s the time for every ones  to reunion and gather in the family.

The north feels warmer with pink peach blossoms that are suitable with dry, cold weather. Meanwhile, the south seems more cheerful with yellow apricot flowers thatsymbols the hot weather of the region.


“Hoa dao” (peach flower) is a symbol of the Northern region every spring.  It is the special flower of the Northern Viet Nam because of its pink colour, which is featured to bring many favourable opportunities throughout the year.  

Northern Vietnamese people are interested in reddish-pink or pink blossoms because those hues are harbingers of good fortune. Intensely colored peach blossoms are favored by northerners. They blossom in spring, during Tet holiday while most of other flowers still stay silent. Therefore, it’s considered the symbol of the strong vitality and a brave heart. Moreover, the pink color of peach flowers is believed to bring the love, joy, and happiness among people in this special moment of the year.

The five‑fruit tray

In the Northern region, five fruits are symbolic of the five basic elements of oriental philosophy - metal, wood, water, fire and soil. In northern areas, five-fruit trays ornamented with pomelos, peaches, kumquats, bananas and persimmons are relatively smaller than those in southern areas. Improvements in people's living conditions in recent years have led to a greater sophistication in choosing fruits for the altar for the Tet holiday. The custom of displaying the five‑fruit tray as votive offerings at the holy place of the house has been reflected in many popular legends and tales. It has originated from ancient popular beliefs observed from one generation to another in their worship towards their forefathers.

In southern Vietnam, some fruits used for offerings are the custard-apple (mang cau) coconut, papaya (đu đu), and mango (xoai). People there keep off banana (afraid of slip), durian (sadness), orange (sufferings), ect. Conversely, the tray in the north often gets smaller and easier to set up. It contains pomelo, banana, mandarin, chili, which can be replaced by other fruits as long as the more colorful the tray is, the better.

 Foods on Tet

It is said that Vietnam’s traditional foods in Lunar New Year is  the quintessence of Vietnamese cuisine.

On Tet, a kind of special cake is tightly packed by sticky rice with meat or bean fillings wrapped in Dong leaves (la dong).


Banh Tet (round glutinous rice cake) is a traditional cake enjoyed by southern Vietnamese people on the occasion of the lunar New Year. It is considered a variant of Banh Chung (square glutinous rice cake), which is more popular in the northern region.

“Banh Chung” is the traditional sticky rice cake in the Northern Viet Nam to honor Mother Earth.

In the south, “Banh Tet”, is as rounded pipe, representing vigor and perpetuity. To enjoy Banh chung, Banh tet during three days, do not forget to eat along with pickled onion and pickled perpetuity respectively.

The process of making Tet cake is time consuming, thus providing an opportunity for family members to bond and come together to celebrate the holiday spirit.

Beside, one of the northern food specialties of Tet is frozen pork with field mushroom. With the warmer climate moving South, the cuisine takes with coconut forming the basis of Tet delicacies such as Thit Heo Kho or pork stewed in coconut milk.

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