February 2024
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Saigon: Viet-namese New Year – TET 2009 – (Part 8)

On the fifteenth day of Tet (called Ram Thang Gieng), the first full moon, there are ceremonies in Buddhist temples. This is considered the most auspicious day of the Buddhist year. “Paying homage to Buddha all year long is not as effective as praying on the 15th day of the first lunar month.” The devout flock into pagodas, their eyes stinging with the blue haze of incense. After prayers, shared blessed offerings from the temple keeper are stuffed into bags carried with them for that purpose. Over the years, this Buddhist sacred day has transformed into a holiday of other cults.

It is also called Tet Trang Nguyen or the feast of the first laureate. There is a legend associated with its beginnings: the emperor once staged a banquet on the full moon to which the most prominent scholars of the kingdom were invited. They drank exquisite liquor and each man composed a formal poem on a theme chosen by the emperor. On that day, many families celebrate Tet all over again by eating banh chung.

This is also called the Little New Year or full moon New Year and celebrated by farmers following an indigenous practice of welcoming Spring at the first full moon. Later, it became infused with Buddhist meanings.

The Viet-namese traditionally celebrated Tet from the fifteenth day of the twelfth month to the fifteenth day of the first month.

As always, you are welcome to share your stories and memories by leaving your comments below.

Chuc Mung Nam Moi! :)


[Excerpted from Tet: The Vietnamese Lunar New Year by Huu Ngoc and Barbara Cohen]

2 comments to Saigon: Viet-namese New Year – TET 2009 – (Part 8)

  • mimi

    It’s quite a trip back in time to read these finely chosen pieces on the celebration of Têt. Thanks Bob, that was a very sweet( and instructive) initiative! I had forgotten some of it, I even learned many things I did not know.
    Back in Saigon, we celebrated Tet in the short version-in fact christmas and New Year were the big thing- but my mother often told me how it was when she was a kid in Hanoi, how her grand-mother( who was a devout buddhist) would go through all the customs and rituals and how fascinated she(my mother) was by all the small scale replicas of furnitures, clothes, toys etc which were burned for the dead.

    I always wanted to tape my mother’s stories, and never did…now it’s too late- Too bad!
    May be we should start taping our own stories for our kids, stories of our glorious youth, before we forget..lol

    Big hugs to all. Mimi

    • Admin

      Mimi … thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed these. Several times while posting them I thought of your sweet mother, and her wonderful daughter, as well as, all the Viet-namese and French/Viet-namese Saigon Kids. Such beautiful memories of times I was blessed to share with some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing in my life. Please give your mother a hug for me and happy new year wishes; and, let her know that her kindness is still remembered after all these years … and thank her for blessing the world with such a wonderful daughter … 🙂

      Yes, maybe we should tape our stories … of course there are some, many would never want their kids to know about … LOL … 🙂

      Have a wonderful day!


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