The Traditional Tet in Vietnam

A journey through time: Old photos of the traditional Tet in Hanoi in 1920s. Time flies so quickly. Our traditional Tet is changed so much and the traditional traits are gradually assimilated with the modern life. Some of its beauty are lost in oblivion. Take a look into the past to see how the cherished traditional Tet looked like. 

The Tet rush usually starts a month before the clock strikes Lunar New Year, with people busy shopping, preparing for the homecoming, cleaning and decorating houses, and cooking Tet specialties, and the celebration can last to another month after the official holiday.

Yet many are arguing Tet is losing its magic amid the modern fast-paced life, and whether the country should abandon the long-standing festival and its accompanying “exhaustion”, joining the rest of the world to celebrate only the International (Solar) New Year instead.

Others on the other hand, are trying to revive the flavors of Tet to prove how it has been a sacred, venerable tradition passed on for centuries that should be kept for the next generations.

While the debate spirals on, take a look back at the Tet spirit in Hanoi almost a century ago, before the wars, the Subsidy Period and then the modern lifestyle rolled in. These black and white photos, taken mostly at the central market of Dong Xuan in the 1920s give a glimpse of the Tet bustle that the elders have been nostalgic for.

Photos via Flickr/manhhai.

Cherry blossoms were being sold at a corner of Dong Xuan Market.
Cherry blossoms were being sold at a corner of Dong Xuan Market.
Traditional New Year in Vietnam in 90s
Waiting to get blessings written in calligraphy, a New Year tradition that is still kept alive today in the capital.
Dong leaves used to wrap banh chung, a special Tet rice cake, are on sale at a stall in the market.
Children in a noble family came to visit and wish their parents good health in the first days of the new year in Xa La village, Ha Dong. 
Children from a noble family visit and wish their parents good health in the first days of the new year in Xa La Village, Ha Dong (now Hanoi’s suburban district).
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