Tet Holiday, also known as Lunar New Year, is traditionally the most solemn holiday of the year for Vietnamese people. It marks the end of the old year at the time of the Pig on Lunar December 30th  (or the 29th for missing months) and welcomes the beginning of the new year, the year of the Rat,  on Lunar January 1st. During Lunar New Year, there are many ceremonies taking place including the Kitchen God's offering (Lunar December 23rd), Bamboo tree erection (from Lunar December 23rd to 30th),  Lunar New Year's Eve, the Earth God offering and spring lucky shoot picking.

On Lunar December 23rd, Hanoi residents started to go to the flower markets, of which the largest one was located in Dong Xuan Market. Due to the insufficient area, flower markets also encroached on streets such as Hang Khoai and Hang Com.

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Dong Xuan Flower Market on a day near the Lunar New Year of the Snake, 1929

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A corner of Hang Khoai Flower Market on a Lunar New Year's Days

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Hanoians are choosing peach blossoms

In addition to displaying peach blossoms on Lunar New Year, Hanoians still kept the elegant hobby of buying daffodils. About a month before Lunar New Year, well-off families looked for big beautiful daffodils to wait for the New Year's moment when daffodils bloomed. It would be a very lucky year.

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Daffodil flower stall, Lunar New Year in 1929

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          A peach blossom branch and daffodil flowers were always present in the living room of an urban wealthy family. 

Grilled pork roll and banh chung (sticky rice cake) were indispensable dishes in the family offerings on Lunar New Year's Days. The most enjoyable activity for families was preparing the banh chung package. The mothers often went to the market early to choose dong leaves that were gourd - shaped and moderately large. Everyone in the family helped each other to process beans, wash dong leaves, marinate pork etc. Then they gathered together by the fire, telling stories and baking sweet potatoes and corn while they waited for the cakes.

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A corner of the market selling dong leaves in the old days


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After boiling, the cakes were removed and squeezed for long-term storage

When the Lunar New Year arrived, every old Hanoi family hung couplets to pray for a lucky and peaceful year.

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Letter buyers and sellers were busy with the largest number being on Hang Bo street where people used to sell bamboo baskets. The Confucian teacher wrote letters and put them into baskets, called the "letter basket". So, the street was called Hang Bo (the basket - sell street) 

The image of the old Confucian teacher that had become all too familiar every spring, was described by the poet Vu Dinh Lien:

"Every year the peach blossoms bloom

The old scholar sitting on the street front 

Display red paper and ink,

By the crowded street."

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In the old days, photography was not common. Only well-off families had the means to take pictures. Therefore, people frequently choose Lunar New Year to gather the entire family for souvenir photos

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A family of four generations

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After having Lunar New Year parties, people started to take part in fun fairs. People came from all over to Hanoi because it was the capital city. When it came to the Lunar New Year, Hanoi became quiet, fresh and sedimentary. At that time, people often went out to see the streets, visited friends or went to temples for good luck.

The sacrifice in the village communal house during the Lunar New Year was a cultural and religious practice of the Vietnamese people. At that time, each house made offerings in front of the village saint to pray for the family’s health and prosperity.

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Worshiping at the village communal house


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