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Lunar New Year: a Vietnamese perspective

Linda Nguyenova and her mother with a peach blossom tree during Lunar New Year

Sunday, 22 January marks the start of the festivities known as Lunar New Year 2023 or Spring Festival. Linda Nguyenova (left, with her mother), is an investor in BGF’s Leeds office. Here, she shares her experiences of Lunar New Year as celebrated by Vietnamese communities.

Growing up as a Vietnamese child, being born and brought up in the Czech Republic, I had the privilege of celebrating both Christmas and Lunar New Year or “Tết” in Vietnamese each year.

What day we celebrate Lunar New Year on is based on a lunisolar calendar (calculating both the motions of Earth around the Sun and of the Moon around Earth) and typically falls between January and February. It is the most important national holiday of the year – as important as Christmas is in the UK.

Families reunite and honour their ancestors, while praying to their ancestors for luck, wellbeing and health for the new year. Vietnamese immigrants from all over the world travel to Vietnam to reunite with their families and spend this holiday with them.

A big part of Lunar New Year is the zodiac calendar and predictions for the year ahead based on what animal year we are (funnily enough, and just to confuse things, the year of the Rabbit is actually the year of the Cat in the Vietnamese zodiac, which is one of the only differences between the two).

I was born in the year of the Monkey so my allocated lucky colour has always been white, which you’ll probably see me wearing in meetings where I need it!

Praying to ancestors is an important part of Lunar New Year celebrations

What are typical Vietnamese traditions on Lunar New Year?

  • Instead of having Christmas trees, homes are decorated with peach blossom trees and/or kumquat trees.
  • Cooking a lot of different traditional dishes (people prepare these days in advance) used as offerings to ancestors and praying to them in front of the altar.
  • Cleaning the entire house before midnight (using Vietnamese time zone) as any cleaning of the house such as sweeping represents ‘sweeping away luck’.
  • Instead of presents, children receive envelopes (typically red) with money – definitely my favourite tradition, before I became the adult who has to hand them out!

On Lunar New Year, children receive red envelopes containing money

What is Lunar New Year?

It is celebrated by more than 2 billion people across the globe – a quarter of the world’s population. Countries that have public holidays during Lunar New Year include China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore and Brunei.

There are twelve zodiac animals. In the Chinese zodiac, this year is the Year of the Rabbit.

Luck in the Year of the Rabbit:

Lucky colours – red, pink, purple & blue

Lucky numbers – 3, 4 & 9

Lucky directions – northeast and southwest

There are many ways to participate in the Lunar New Year celebrations in London, which has the largest events outside Asia, and in the rest of the UK and Ireland.

If you are celebrating Lunar New Year, best wishes from everyone at BGF!

Investor profile

Job title: Investor and deal origination in Yorkshire & North East

How long at BGF: Since May 2022

Which office are you based in: Leeds

Work prior to BGF: PwC – Assurance/Deals (Debt Advisory); Endless LLP – Investment Manager

Board positions: Arc Inspirations

Interests/hobbies outside of work: Spending time with my horse, Coolio, and competing in showjumping. I also enjoy yoga, eating out and beach holidays.

BGF Insights 01.20.2023
Tags BGF teams