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Top 10 taboos during Vietnamese Tet

For Vietnamese people, Tet is a wonderful occasion for family reunion but certain things must not be done during this festive season.
For Vietnamese people, Tet is a wonderful occasion for family reunion but certain things must not be done during this festive season. For foreigners who are still not familiar with Vietnamese customs, or the way the Vietnamese celebrate Tet, here is a Watch out list!


Rule number 1: Don’t show up at somebody’s house on the 1st day of the new year unless you have been invited by the house owner first, and especially if you are not lucky enough to possess a name associated with wealth, happiness, prosperity or longevity.

Well, still plenty of time to get your name changed! And be careful not to visit anyone’s house for the first three days if you have funerals in your immediate family in the last 3 years.

Rule number 2: No black and white, or dark clothes– they are for funerals, not New Year holidays. Wear red –hopefully bulls will pardon you during these days.

Rule number 3: Don’t swear, curse or argue. Avoid negative topics such as accidents, deaths, or funerals. Put on a smile for at least the first 3 days of the year, even if somebody slaps you in the face, and on the safe side, do as the Brits do – talk about the weather! Oops, but maybe not the black holes or floods!

Rule number 4: For those who enjoy giving presents, make sure you avoid the followings: clock or watch (the recipient's time is going to pass), cats (mèo in Vietnamese language pronounced like nghèo, poverty – even though this year is the year of the cat), medicine (the receiver will get ill), writing ink (ink is black, an unlucky color), scissors or knives (they bring incompatibility).

So if you are thinking of giving your girlfriend a Rolex, it is high time you changed your mind!

Rule number 5: Don’t sweep the house or empty out the rubbish to avoid luck and benefits going with it, especially on the first day of the New Year. So be prepared to live with dust and dirt!

Rule number 6: Don’t ask someone to repay you a debt or loan (but wait until the next 2-3 weeks!) People believe that if they have to repay or borrow money at the beginning of the year, they will have to borrow and repay money for the rest of the year. Best time of the year to dodge your debts, eh?

Rule number 7: If you have been proud of your ability to devour any kind of food, stop yourself from eating squids (its ink is black, not the favorite color, remember?), duck meat (duck is stupid), or shrimps (you will move backwards like them!).

So if you are seeking promotion, probably best not to eat shrimps for the whole year – not so sure about lobsters though!

Rule number 8: Don’t take things that are related to water or fire out of somebody’s house: Fire is considered to be the source of the warmth of the family, whereas water appears in the popular wish “Tien vo nhu nuoc” (“Money rushes in like water).

So, taking water out of somebody’s house is equivalent to taking away their wealth. A relaxing time for firefighters!

Rule number 9: the fifth day of the New Year is considered to be anniversary of the death, not good for departures. A good excuse for not having to start work that early, and if your boss is a western, he needs education!

Rule number 10: And last but not least, don’t kill, or hurt! If you feel like eating chicken, buy it ready prepared – the guilt is with the slaughter house owners and we remain always innocent and pure!

VGP

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