The Lunar New Year in Vietnam (also known as Vietnamese New Year, Tet Holiday or Tet) officially takes place for 3 days, from 1st to 3rd of January of the lunar calendar. However, before and after Tet, there are many important Ceremonies including the New Year Eve Welcoming Ceremony (Vietnamese: Lễ đón giao thừa). The ceremony happens at 12 pm on December 30th (a full month) or 29th (a missing month) of the lunar calendar.
The New Year’s Eve time point is the one contiguous between the old year and the new year. According to the folk belief of the East Asian people, every year there is a god responsible for managing the human world’s affairs. At New Year’s Eve time point, the old god handed over the responsibility to the new god. On this occasion, people carry out New Year’s Eve Welcoming Ceremony to see off the old god and welcome the old god.
Offerings for the New Year Eve Welcoming Ceremony consists of
-A boiled yellow young rooster
-Square Glutinous rice cake (Vietnamese: bánh chưng, available in North)
-Cylindric glutinous rice cake (Vietnamese: bánh tét, available in Central and South )
-Sticky rice with momordica cochinchinensis (Vietnamese: quả gấc, one of special fruit grown in South East Asia, especially in Vietnam. The local people usually use the ripe fruits for cooking sticky rice)
-Betel and areca
-Incense and lamp
Depending on the locality, the offerings are slightly different, as long as the family is sincere. The family sets a table in front of the house and lay the offerings out. Besides the offering tray for God and Buddha… told above, the family also prepares the tray for the ancestor. This tray is put inside the house and the family can offer anything they have, not Obligatory. Finishing the preparation, the homeowner proceeds the ceremony.
The homeowner burns 3 incense sticks, put on the forehead and prays,
“Dear God, Buddhas, Fairies, Saints and Gods.
Now is the time point contiguous between the year of… and the year of… the controlling god (the god responsible for the human world for a year) of … replaces the controlling god of … I am…My address … We invite you to come to enjoy the small party. Please help us get to have adequate food and clothing, happiness and success in the new year.”
The prayer is complete, the homeowner nods 3 times and puts the incense sticks in the incensory on the table. After that, he goes into the house to offer the ancestor. During the party, the homeowner pours tea water 1 time, then pours alcohol 3 times. Waiting for the incense sticks burn completely, the homeowner burns the votive. The New Year Eve Welcoming Ceremony finishes.
The New Year Eve Welcoming Ceremony is not only done at home but also at village temples, pagodas or companies. Depending on the location, the content of the prayer is varied accordingly.