The Lunar New Year (or Tet Ngyuen Dan) in Vietnam falls each year on the first new moon after Jan. 20, and is by far the biggest celebration in the country. The festivities typically last a week, similar to the holiday season in the West, and focus on honoring ancestors, parents, grandparents, teachers and others. The Vietnamese believe that the mood and actions of this period set the tone for the coming year, so arguments fade and harmony ensues.
Traditional foods include soup made with abalone or shark's fin. Cutting the fish open has significance as the redder the flesh, the more luck will come to the family. Many Asian cultures believe red wards off evil.
While traveling to visit family and friends during the Lunar New Year, the Vietnamese bring gifts of food, including banana cakes made with coconut milk, which could be considered the equivalent of fruitcakes in the United States. Other favorite Tet foods include mustard green pickle, sweet rice cakes and fresh bacon.
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