Tet holiday in Vietnam: offering food and ghost money

Unlike the West, Asians specially value worshipping ancestors, therefore, there are so many customs and rules in worshipping of Vietnamese people. Today we will see the 2 major items in the worshipping custom of Vietnamese people in Tet holiday.

Offering meals for the year end

Offering meals for the year end

Tet is the most important event of a lunar year, on this occasion, people reunite and have lots of parties, so of course, tributes for ancestors cannot be lacked on those days. In Tet, people usually offer food 3 times a day to their ancestors as if they were alive and needed 3 meals a day as they do. However, the custom nowadays has been simplified a lot. Today in Tet they burn incense sticks all days on the altar but fresh food is only served once a day.

Offering meal for New Year's Eve

Offering meal for New Year’s Eve

On the 30th of the last month evening, people will cook a hearty meal to offer ancestors, the meal always has Banh Chung or Banh Tet, sticky rice and a boiled chicken, which are obliged in the entire country. And, people never eat before offering meal as it is considered an offensive to the ancestors. Only after the food is set on the altar and the incense stick is burnt, alive people start their reunite meal to say goodbye to the old year.

Offering meal for the last day of Tet

Offering meal for the last day of Tet

Also on 30th, exactly the moment between 30th and the 1st of New Year’s Eve, they will offer food again. After that, Vietnamese people usually offer food for ancestors once a day before dinner until the last day of their celebration (last day is not fixed, it depends on how long a family would like it to be or how long members could stay home). Dishes in each offering can vary but the main dishes carrying the breath of Tet like Banh Chung (in the North), Banh Tet (in the South) , sticky rice are always there.

Ghost money

Ghost money

The second thing to mention is ghost money. In the past, ghost money was simple image of coins printed on super thin papers, however, nowadays, due to the modern printing technology, they print bank notes looking partially similar to current bank notes but they are definitely  not the counterfeit currency. Not to mention the different material, on the ghost notes there are also writings and signals of “the other side” that Vietnamese people can recognize very easily, however, being a tourists, you might need to be careful because not all foreigners could tell the ghost notes and genuine notes a part at the first look.

A ghost Roll Royce

A ghost Roll Royce

Not only notes, people also made up all kinds of facilities that are available in the real world from bamboo and papers. You might find it  a bit weird to see people burn bunches of models as houses, cars, TV, horses and so on to send to their ancestors in the other world but this is a very familiar tradition in Vietnam. In Vietnam culture, people believe in the exist of the other world and that whatever occurs in Yang (the current world) are the same in Yin (the world people live after death) so they try to provide their ancestors in Yin with as many facilities as they can so that they could live a decent life.

Ghost money is burnt tobe sent to the other world

Ghost money is burnt tobe sent to the other world

The worshipping custom in Vietnam is quite strange but it is nice culture and if you dig enough to understand the culture, you might find Vietnamese people are even more lovely ones to live with.

Don’t hesitate to pack your luggage, come and discover the amazing land. For more information please visit our family website:

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