Lunar New Year Festival (Tet Nguyen Dan), or Tet for short, is considered the biggest and most popular festival of the year in Vietnam. Celebrated on the first day of the first month on the Lunar calendar, the Tet celebration is the longest holiday of the year and may last up to seven days.
Traditionally, the purpose of Tet holiday is that Vietnamese would like to thank the gods for the arrival of spring with a variety of blooming trees and flowers after a cold and harsh winter. Also, this is a privileged occasion for family members to reunite, celebrating a new year which has come together, and saying farewell to the previous one. All the best things are prepared and consumed during this holiday, as people want to ensure that they will have a new year full of prosperity.
Since Tet occupies such an important role in Vietnamese religious beliefs, Vietnamese begin their preparations well in advance of the upcoming New Year. In an effort to get rid of the bad luck of the old year, people will spend a few days cleaning their homes, polishing every utensil, or even repaint and decorate the house with kumquat tree, branches of peach blossom, and many other colorful flowers. The ancestral altar is especially well taken care of, with careful decoration of five kinds of fruits and votive papers, along with many religious rituals. Everybody, especially children, buy new clothes and shoes to wear on the first days of New Year. People also try to pay all their pending debts and resolve all the arguments among colleagues, friends or family members.
Like other Asian countries, Vietnamese believe that the colours red and yellow will bring good fortune, which may explain why these colours can be seen everywhere in Lunar New Year. People consider what they do on the dawn of Tet will determine their fate for the whole year, hence people always smile and behave as nicely as they can in the hope for a better year. Besides, gifts are exchanged between family members and friends and relatives, while children receive lucky money in red envelopes.
In China, hundreds of millions of people are travelling to their home villages in what is considered the world's biggest annual human migration.
Chinese New Year, known in modern Chinese as the "Spring Festival", is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the evening proceeding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between January 21st and February 20th. In 2017, the first day of the Chinese New Year is on Saturday, January 28th, initiating the Year of the Rooster.
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for an annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". Other activities include lighting fire-crackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.
The Songkran festival is the Thai New Year's festival. The Thai New Year's Day is April 13th every year, but the holiday period includes April 14th - 15th as well.
The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. Mornings begin with merit-making. Visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks is commonly practised. On this specific occasion, pouring water on Buddha statues is an iconic ritual for this holiday. It represents purification and the washing away of one's sins and bad luck.
As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved ones and elders. As a way to show respect, younger people often pour water on the palms of elders' hands. Paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition.
The holiday is known for its water festival which is mostly celebrated by young people. Major streets are closed for traffic, and are used as arenas for water fights. Celebrants, young and old, participate in this tradition by splashing water on each other.
The Republic of Korea
Korean New Year is the first day of the Korean lunar calendar. It is one of the most important traditional Korean holidays. The celebration usually lasts three days: the day before Korean New Year, Korean New Year itself, and the day after Korean New Year. During this time, many Koreans visit family, perform ancestral rites, wear hanbok, eat traditional food, and play folk games. Additionally, children often receive money from their elders after performing a formal bow.
Korean New Year generally occurs in January or February on the second new moon after the winter solstice, unless there is a intercalary eleventh or twelfth month in the lead-up to the New Year. In such a case, the New Year falls on the third new moon after the solstice. Korean New Year typically falls on the same day as Chinese New Year.
Tteokguk (soup with sliced rice cakes) is a traditional Korean food that is customarily eaten for the New Year. According to Korean age reckoning, the Korean New Year is similar to a birthday for Koreans, and eating tteokguk is part of the birthday celebration. Once you finish eating your tteokguk, you are one year older.
On Korean New Year day, people prepare a lot of food and spend much of the day with family.
The Mongolian Lunar New Year, commonly known as Tsagaan Sar, is the first day of the year according to the Mongolian lunisolar calendar. The festival of the Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Mongols.
The customs of Tsagaan Sar are significantly different depending on the region. In Mongolia around the New Year for example, families burn candles at the altar symbolizing Buddhist enlightenment. Also people greet each other with holiday-specific greetings. Mongols also visit friends and family on this day and exchange gifts. A typical Mongol family will meet in the home dwelling of the eldest in the family.
Many people will be dressed in full garment of national Mongol costumes. When greeting their elders during the White Moon festival, Mongols perform the zolgokh greeting, grasping them by their elbows to show support for them.
The eldest receives greetings from each member of the family except for his/her spouse. During the greeting ceremony, family members hold long, typically blue, silk cloths called a khadag. After the ceremony, the extended family eats sheep's tail, mutton, rice with curds, dairy products, and buuz. It is also typical to drink airag and exchange gifts.
The traditional food in Mongolia for the festival includes dairy products, rice with curds or rice with raisins, a pyramid of traditional cookies erected on a large dish in a special fashion symbolising Mount Sumeru or Shambhala realm, a grilled side of sheep and minced beef or minced mutton steamed inside pastry, steamed dumplings known as buuz, horse meat and traditional cookies.
Tsagaan Sar is a lavish feast, requiring preparation days in advance, as the men and women make large quantities of buuz, along with ul boov, a pastry reserved for both dessert and presentation./.