Do Vietnamese get offended when Tet is called Chinese New Year?

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Do Vietnamese get offended when Tet is called Chinese New Year?

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16 Answers

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This is malicious provocation by westerners because the English speaking world invented the word.

Spring Festival is not called Chinese New Year in Chinese, but "Spring Festival", or simply "lunar New Year" in another way.

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The term …… New Year is really not a native word in Vietnam, we generally call it Tết Ta (Our Tết) to differentiates with Tết Tây (Westerner Tết). Tet Ta being the Lunar New Year while Tet Tay being the 01/01 normal New Year since Vietnamese legally & officially celebrate both those holidays.

So, I personally don’t get offended, you could call it whatever you are comfortable with it would be nice if you call it Tet when you are in Vietnam or with Vietnamese for easier clarification but people don’t care much and they won’t get mad at you, don’t worry.

In Vietnam many people claims that Tet is a tradition exclusively native to Vietnam and that it have nothing to do with China (even giving a lot of evidences for their claims). But overwhelming majority of people recognize that since Tet is based on the Lunar New Year and Lunar Calendar is a Chinese creation, it has to have some direct relations with China. So the Sino nature of the holiday is without much doubts in Vietnam.

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However, just because it is related China, does not make it less Vietnamese, in fact still is very Vietnamese. We celebrate it in our own date, our own tradditions adding on top of the core Sinospheric ones, we have our own practices, our own songs and activities for it and through generations making it a very holy holiday for all Vietnamese regardless of background. And every Vietnamese can be proud that this holiday is theirs and only theirs. Those above are additions to the core Lunar New Year traditions of course.

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In the Vietnamese core of Tet, we Vietnamese make bánh trưng & bánh giầy(dày) representing the bountiful of earth (chưng) and the limitless nature of the sky (giầy/dày). The myth on the creation of these foods are as old as Vietnam itself even pre-date northern rule of Vietnam. A roughly 2,500–3,000+ years old cooking recipe that is still maintained today everytime the mai and đào trees reveals their beauty. The fact Vietnamese still making these after all this time warms my heart sometimes.

bánh trưng & bánh giầy(dày) through times:

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Outside of those two, Vietnamese also celebrate it like the rest of the Lunar New Year world, and with many other unique Vietnamese practices that you could search deeper into if you are interested.

To sums it up:

Tet itself is innocent so please don’t make a venerable holiday into a political debate, let’s all appreciate the holiday for what it is and celebrate it in the most civilized and decent way like our ancestors did. A time of the year where you could relax and bring our mind back home, to your roots, to your family and to yourself, to feels the cultural progress of the nation after centuries, because at the end of the day,

không có người con dân đất Việt nào ăn Tết, ngày lễ thiêng liêng nhất của toàn dân, của dân tộc mà lại nghĩ là mình đang ăn Tết Tàu cả.

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I once had the following conversation with a friend from Vietnam, who was trying to convince me that Tet (Vietnamese celebration of the lunar new year) is a different holiday from Chinese New Year.

Me: If they fall on the same day, they are basically the same holiday. Friend: No it's not. We are Vietnamese and we call it differently. Me: What do you call December 25th? Friend: Christmas. Me: Why don't people in Canada call it The Canadian Christmas? We are Canadians. Friend: ...

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Question: Do Vietnamese get offended when Tet is called Chinese New Year?

Answer: Of course, No! However, I guess that they may feel confused with how knowledgeable you have about the Tet Holidays of the Vietnamese and the Chinese New Year’s holiday. In Vietnam, the term “Tết/Tet” is refered to not only the Vietnamese Lunar New Year/Tết Nguyên Đán but also many other special holidays at different times in the Vietnamese Lunar Calander (below). Hence, How weird it is if all of the Tet Holidays of the Vietnamese happens at different times are the Chinese New Year.

Tết Nguyên Đán /The Vietnamese Lunar New Year - 1/1 of the Vietnamese Lunar Calendar

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(Chung cake for this kind of the Tet)

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(Mứt - Special candy of the Vietnamese for the Vietnamese Lunar New Year)

Tết Nguyên Tiêu -15/01 of the Vietnamese lunar Calendar

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Tết Hàn Thực

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(Bánh Trôi - A kind of the Vietnamese cake for this kind of Tet)

Tết Thanh Minh

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(Things prepared for worshipping their ancestors during the Tet Thanh Minh)

Tết Đoan Ngọ or Tết Diệt Sâu Bọ

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Tết Trung Nguyên

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Tết Trung Thu (Tet holiday for Kid happens in the mid of the Vietnamese calendar’s august)

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Tết Táo Quân

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Tết Khai Hạ

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Tết Hạ Nguyên

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In conclusion : The Vietnamese seems to regard many of their special traditional holiday of a year as Tet in which one of Tết Nguyên Đán or the Vietnamese New Year and the Chinese New Year share a lot of common things. However, it is quite irrational to call all of the Tet Holidays of the Vietnamese to happen on many occasions of a year as the Chinese New Year such as Tết Hạ Nguyên’s holiday, Tết Đoan Ngọ’s holiday…etc.

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We use the phrase "Tet Holiday" (or "Tet" for short) more frequently than "Chinese (Lunar) New Year". Tet is the biggest holiday in Vietnam that celebrates the arrival of Spring based on Vietnamese Calendar which is in turn mostly based on Chinese Calendar. I think this is the reason why some people mistaken one word with the other. I've got many foreign friends (some from Japan, some from China, and many from Western countries). Many of them (especially Japanese and Chinese) seemed not to confuse "Tet" with Chinese New Year and used the word correctly while some (very few, mostly Westerns,) could not distinguish the two words. For me, it was totally OK for them to say so as long as they did not mean any thing (e.g., they just did not know it).

A related example that I'd like to mention is the name of the Vietnamese sea. While we call it the East Sea (Biển Đông in Vietnamese), it is named as South China Sea in the Google Map. I think the name is basically just a name which does not mean any political thing. In this case, it is just a geography-related name. Because China is much more bigger and well known to many people than Vietnam, it may be more convenient to use China's counterpart when you try to explain some things about Vietnam to someone who does not know Vietnam.

So, basically the answer is we (at least me) are totally fine, folks :)

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[Vietnamese uses modified-modifier structures]

Tet is the Vietnamese equivalent of the Chinese New Year

Green tea in English & liuh char in Chinese both use the Adjective-Noun sequence, but Vietnamese uses the Noun-Adjective sequence: trà xanh.

I have long been curious about the monosyllabic New Year’s holiday that Vietnamese call “Tet”, and I suspected a Chinese connection.

Today I was delighted to discover that the full name is Tết Nguyên Đán , which is a Sino-Vietnamese compound Noun Phrase (NP): 節元旦 Jié Yuándàn / Jye Yuandann in Mandarin. Using proper Chinese syntax, in Mandarin this would be turned around: modifier → modified 元旦節 Yuándàn Jié / Yuandann Jye (but Chinese wouldn’t call it that) .

In Chinese, 元旦 refers to the {morning 旦} of the {first 元} day of the western New Year (陽曆新年 yánglì xīnnián / yanglih shinnian ), but in Vietnamese Tết Nguyên Đán refers to the traditional Lunar New Year Celebration.

In Chinese, the traditional holiday is called by various names, including 春節 chūnjié / chuenjye “Spring Festival”(PRC) or 陰曆過年 yīnlì guònián / inlih guohnian (Taiwan) “[literally] 過年 New Year according to 陰曆 the Lunar Calendar”

[the text above was slightly modified from a cross-posted comment on Tết]

It is unfortunate that political considerations spoil what should be a delightful holiday for all. Tet, Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year or whatever you prefer to call it, is just a time to enjoy ancient traditions and delicious food with friends and family.

If you are in Vietnam, do the polite thing and call it Tết. If you are in China, call it 春節 chūnjié / chuenjye ; In Taiwan, call it 陰曆過年 yīnlì guònián / inlih guohnian or just 過年 guònián / guohnian for short.

No need to argue over trivial details. Just have fun!

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Interestingly the “Chinese New Year” issue only exists in the English world. In Chinese culture it’s just called “Spring Festival” (for the beginning of spring) or “Crossing the New Year”. And it’s inherently unbiased because it corresponds to the calender which is used both by Vietnam and China.

The issue starts when Western people noticed the festival and since they observed it, they were going to name it “civicly”, like they took names for other barbaric habits and concept in other uncivilized tribes. So “New Year” or “Spring Festival” became “Chinese New Year” because it’s first been observed in China. This naming tradition has lasted for centuries. So “Chinese New Year” got its English name not because it’s “Chinese”, but “first observed by the civilized people in a region call China (which btw has nothing to do with the country’s propre name)” .

We can easily find more similar examples. For instance, Diospyros kaki is called japanese persimmon because it’s first observed in Japan. Cantonese rice is called Cantonese rice because it’s first observed in Canton. The English language is abusing local concepts and the locals suffer.

So Asian people arguing this “Chinese New Year” issue are missing the point. The more important thing is to get rid of this Europe-centric naming obsession. Tet is called Tet in Vietnam, and it’s derived and evolved from some common festivals celebrated by most East Asian people, including Chinese people. It’s a branch from a common culture that is great and worth inheriting regardless of the current political or ideological situation. What it means is more important than what it sounds like.

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We don't really care about it.

Probably almost all Vietnamese think it comes from China.

They often call it "Tết" or "Năm Mới" in Vietnamese.

If it is held in Vietnam, they will call it "Tet"/"Lunar New Year" or "Lunar New Year" in English.

But if you use the sentence: "Chinese New Year is celebrated in Vietnam", they will be angry. Because Vietnamese New Year and Chinese New Year are not exactly the same .

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*Yellow mai (ochna integerrima) — One of the symbols of Vietnamese New Year*

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*Bánhchưng and Bánhtét — Two of the symbols of Vietnamese New Year*

I think the same thing happens in Korea and Japan.

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I speak with local Vietnamese in Vietnam about this issue very often, and it turn out that I am the only person who really cares about the proper naming of Tet, like in English we call it Chinese New Year by default, but I always refute to address it with such a terminology, and insist to call it as either “lunar new year” or “crossing the year festival”(the expression I knew from learning Cantonese). And when facing issue that I brought up to them, the Vietnamese locals simply smile it away, one of the person even said “if the Chinese also celebrate it and call it differently, then it is the same as the Vietnamese also call it differently”. Yes, because the different naming also signify a different projection of purpose to observe this new year festival of the lunar calendar , although in practice the two countries are both overlapping the variety of customs of each other.

On the contrary, the Sinocentric thinkers are not approaching to this issue with a rational head, they insist the naming as Chinese calendar, with an appeal to its mythologic origin, which’s the myth that this lunar calendar was invented during the eras of either Yellow empire or Xia dynasty, hence it is an exclusive invention of the Chinese ancestors LOL? Otherwise, shall they insist to name it as Hua Xia calendar ?! And then with this motive behind to look for an archeological evidence to prove that the calendar is invented by the ancient people in the north to the Yangtze? And it was done so after the identity awareness of “ Hua Xia ” appear in our true history ? LOL

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I'm Vietnamese who is studying in Australia, I've never been offended neither do my Vietnamese friends. Actually we always say happy Chinese new year to other non vietnamese people, especially on facebook and to vietnamese born in Australia

Actually I've never thought about it until I heard some people get offended. To me it's just a name like Roman alphabet and arabic numbers. I've never attached Chinese New Year with being exclusively Chinese so I never felt left out. Here in Australia Chinese and Koreans also join our Tet festival and Vietnamese and Koreans join Chinese New Year parade. I hate to think because of some sensitive people there are ethnic tension over this festival.

I think if Im in a foreign country with no Vietnamese people I would be very happy to see Chinese during this time because they are celebrating the same festival as us And would have no problem joining their Chinese New Year celebration or calling it Chinese New Year.

And honestly there are so many Chinese people in other countries comparing to Vietnamese and Koreans, like in Chinatowns. They built the place and they were there way longer than us. It's not fair when we come in and tell them to change the name of their traditional festival because of us.

For example if Vietnamese people moved to Nigeria 500 years ago and celebrate Tet every year, then all of sudden Chinese come in and demand to change it to lunar new year. We would be pissed off and annoyed.

I think it's fair to leave it as Chinese New Year especially in Chinatowns around the world, but maybe if you are saying it to a Vietnamese person we would be so happy if you say Happy tet or chuc mung nam moi to us. Because it shows you care about us :D

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