The Lunar New Year, Tet, is the most important holiday in Vietnamese culture. Tet is a celebration of spring and the upcoming year. The Tet holiday is based on the Chinese lunar calendar and according to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac cycle, the Chinese year beginning in 2021 is the year of the “Ox”. The Ox is the second of all zodiac animals. The Ox is also associated with the Earthly Branch. In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal for its role in agriculture, positive characteristics such as being honest and hardworking.
Vietnam has created its own Tet’s traditions with a blend of Chinese culture. Many Vietnamese-Americans, brought the tradition to the United States and in some communities such as Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, and Westminster there are exciting festivities leading up to the Lunar New Year. Preparation for Tet usually takes a few weeks in advance from thoroughly cleaning every part of the home to decorations with celebratory items. Plants, flowers, fruits, and food are in abundance in every home. One of the most popular dishes that's enjoyed during the New Year feast is banh chung, a rice cake consists of glutinous rice, mung beans, port, and other ingredients that depend on the area and the preferences of the chef. The cake is wrapped in banana leaves and served in pairs. It is also a common practice for Vietnamese families to purchase new clothes to wear during the holiday and the upcoming year. Kids love Tet as it is a custom of parents and elders to give children a small sum of money to enjoy in a “red envelope”.