An Illustrated Guide to Tet Superstitions

Along with Tet celebrations come a litany of superstitions that can either make the incoming year a success or a disaster. Here are some of the most common superstitions, playfully illustrated in a short animated film entitled 10 Things Not to Do in Lunar New Year by Tu Bui and Duc Tran.

    1. Don’t sweep the house during the first three days of Tet because you’ll also sweep your luck and good fortune away. On the eve of Tet, no matter how busy everyone gets, Vietnamese families will take the time to clean the house, garden and altar – and during Tet, be extra careful to keep everything nice and tidy.

    1 (OiVietNam_3N)

    2. Be careful not to break anything because it symbolizes damage or loss, possibly to family or societal ties. Grownups will caution kids to be extra careful with bowls and plates.

    2 (OiVietNam_3N)

    3. Don’t hold funerals during the first three days of Tet. Tet is cause for national celebration, so grieving families are expected to put aside their sorrows for the time being. If someone dies on the eve of Tet, the family will try to hold the funeral that day. If it’s on the first day of Tet, they’ll delay to the second day. Grieving families usually don’t go well-wishing; instead others should come to their home.

    3 (OiVietNam_3N)

    4. Avoid wearing white or black. White and black clothing are associated with death and grieving, so people will opt for colorful clothes befitting of celebration.

    4 (OiVietNam_3N)

    5. Don’t swear or fight. Everyone should be on their best behavior during Tet towards neighbors, friends and family. Losing your temper or shouting will bring bad luck for the year.

    5 (OiVietNam_3N)

    6. Don’t give away water or fire. Both water and fire, essential elements, are viewed as auspicious: fire because it’s red, the color of luck, and water because an urn full of water symbolizes fortune and bounty. The Vietnamese also say that “money flows like water,” so homes will make sure they have plenty of water and stoke their fires so as not to run out.

    6 (OiVietNam_3N)

    7. Don’t be the first caller on the first day of Tet. For Vietnamese, the first person to visit their home in the new year will affect the family’s fortunes for the whole year. Lots of thought will go into finding someone very successful or otherwise fortunate to invite as the first caller. If unsure, only visit very close friends or family.

    7 (OiVietNam_3N)

    8. Don’t borrow money. Vietnamese will avoid borrowing or lending during Tet. Borrowing means you’ll be poor all year whereas lending (money or other items) means you’re giving away your luck.

    8 (OiVietNam_3N)

    9. Avoid taboo foods. Certain foods, like duck or dog, are traditionally viewed as bad luck during Tet. Other food might be considered unlucky because of its nature (eg. shrimp, because they swim backwards meaning your plans for the year will stall) or because of its name (eg. bitter melon in Vietnamese is kho qua, and kho can also mean “suffering”).

    9 (OiVietNam_3N)

    10. Be happy! No one wants to be around a downer during the happiest time of the year. So put your worries aside and join in the fun!

    10 (OiVietNam_3N)

    In addition to things to avoid, Vietnamese will surround themselves with auspicious omens – heavily flowering trees and shrubs that signal prosperity; blooming yellow and red flowers, the colors of gold and luck; and visits to the pagoda.

     

    ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATORS: Saigon-based Duc Tran and Tu Bui collaborated on this animated short entitled 10 Things Not to Do in Lunar New Year, with Tu Bui supplying the graphics and Duc Tuan adding animation, sound and text. Duc initially moved from Hanoi to Saigon to pursue a degree in Economics/Law, but realized in his third year that he was more interested in Design. When the animation industry took off, Duc found work as a Motion Graphic Designer and is now Creative Director at Starseed, a digital communication agency. “We made the viral clip for a Tet-themed viral clip competition,” explains Duc. “We brainstormed whether to illustrate what to do or what notto do during Tet and found that the taboos were more interesting.” As for a Hanoi vs. Saigon Tet, Duc prefers Hanoi. “Because of the cold weather, Tet in Hanoi somehow just feels warmer. The city is alive, whereas in Saigon, everyone goes back to their hometown because many people aren’t actually from here. For me, Tet means being at home with family, watching movies and cooking together as a family.”

    For more of their work, including animated clips on what to do during Tet and the history behind the Tet envelopes, visit DuckTran and Xoyooyox on Behance.

     

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

1 thought on “An Illustrated Guide to Tet Superstitions”

Leave a Comment

The 4 Top Fascinating Benefits of Shopping for Linen Clothing

Are you searching for a comfortable, elegant cloth fabric that makes you stand out? It’s time to consider linen clothes. These attires are not only amazingly breathable but also sustainable. That’s not all. They have a unique, timeless feature within them; thus, you can become assured it’ll remain in style with each passing trend. Suppose

Read More »

Pills, Teas and Songs

Debby Nguyen’s new book “Pills, Teas, and Songs” is a collection of 11 stories on medicine practices across different cultures and countries, for example, traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Vietnamese medicine (inspired by her own family and heritage), Ayahuasca, indigenous healing practices of the Lakota people, Black midwifery in the US, and more. The book is

Read More »

Top 5 Effective Ways to Promote a Video Production Company

When it comes to starting your own production company, it’s a lot harder than said, and finding the right customers and building a clientele is another mountain to climb on its own. In the past couple of years, we have seen a sudden growth in video marketing. The video format dominates the current digital landscape

Read More »

“Arts for Smiles” Painting & Exhibition Week in the South of Hoi An

Every year typically has a few defining moments, but the past nine months, affected by the coronavirus pandemic have contained so many world-changing, paradigm-shifting developments that it’s getting hard to believe we’re not in a simulation that’s running every possible scenario at once. With a pandemic still raging, waves of social change swelling around the

Read More »

CH House

The house is designed for three family generations who wanted to create a harmonious space in the hectic city (Hanoi) in order to enhance traditional  family life. The site of the house is a typical plot for long and narrow local tube houses; with CH house the dimensions are –  4,2 m  wide by 35

Read More »

Furever Gifts

For many, the joy of giving can be marred with the realization that gift-giving itself is a dressed up episode of consumerism. But what if you want to actually be charitable this season and buy your gift conscientiously? A number of Saigon charities and organizations sell gifts that directly benefit important causes, like womens’ economic

Read More »