To these families, celebrating the Lunar New Year holiday, or Tet, Vietnam’s biggest national holiday, is considered the most important of these traditions. 

Le Hoang Phuong Quynh, 37, who works at air carrier Emirates, has spent the past four years celebrating Tet with her family at their home in Dubai.

This year, she said, they will continue that tradition.  

“My children have school during the Vietnamese holiday, so we are not able to return to Vietnam for the Tet,” she said, adding that she wished she would have been able to enjoy the holiday atmosphere in Vietnam with her friends and family. 

“Still, I am preparing for a big, warm Tet celebration here [in Dubai],” she said.

Le Hoang Phuong Quynh’s house in Dubai is festooned with Tet decorations. Photo: Supplied

To celebrate, Quynh has ordered peach blossoms and apricot flowers – two important Tet symbols – to decorate her home.

She also has plans to cook banh chung (square sticky rice cake), banh tet (cylindrical sticky rice cake), thit kho trung (caramelized pork and eggs), pickled leeks, bitter melon soup, and fruit jam.  

In order to make sure her children maintain their connection to Vietnam, Quynh makes it a point to have them join her at the supermarket to buy ingredients and to have them help her cook. 

A fruit tray with custard apple, coconut, mango, pineapple and papaya will be placed afront the altar in her home. The five-fruit tray represents the homeowner’s wishes for a financially rewarding or at least an adequate year.

Also, she will give lucky money, or li xi, in red envelopes to her two children, a girl and a boy, as a way of wishing them good luck, health, and happiness in the upcoming year.

Other traditional customs her family plans to follow on the first day of the new lunar year include not sweeping the house, not eating meat, and visiting a pagoda. 

26-year-old Trang Minh Nhu is another Vietnamese citizen who lives overseas. 

“[Last year, in the United States] my fiance and I cooked some traditional Vietnamese Tet dishes, such as caramelized pork and eggs, and decorated our house to welcome the Lunar New Year,” she shared.

Nhu, who has since moved to Australia, shared that she felt homesick during last year’s Tet even though she had invited a group of foreign friends for a Tet celebration at her home.

“We also tried to keep many customs during Tet, like wearing red clothes to welcome lucky and good things for the new year.  We also handed out li xi and sent Tet wishes to our friends,” she said.

She excitedly shared that she plans to return to Vietnam to celebrate this year’s holiday.

Nguyen Thi Hoang Phu, an office worker, who has lived in the United States for over four years, also shared her family’s plans for  the upcoming holiday, which include returning to Vietnam to reunite with friends and family.  

Still, before her trip, there is plenty Phu will do to celebrate the days leading up to Tet in America, including visiting a local Asian market to buy banh chung and going to a Vietnamese shop to purchase peach blossoms and marigolds.

Nguyen Thi Hoang Phu, who lives in the United States with her husband and son, poses for a photo with a fruit tray and flowers for the 2023 Lunar New Year holiday. Photo: Supplied

“I will also cook some traditional Vietnamese dishes for Tet to treat my husband and son,” Phu shared.

“Through the traditional customs of giving li xi, and going to the pagoda during the Lunar New Year, I want to introduce my son to his homeland’s traditions,” the 33-year-old added.

Thanh Nguyen also lives abroad. 

Nguyen, who has spent six years living with her husband and daughter in Victoria, Canada, plans to buy Tet-themed decorations to beautify her family’s home so that it embodies the festive atmosphere.

As with years past, she plans to participate in Tet-centered programs hosted by Vietnamese organizations in Canada. 

“My family will also visit Chinatown for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday to watch unicorn dances, which will make us feel more festive,” Nguyen said.

Thanh Nguyen and her family visit Chinatown in Canada to enjoy unicorn dances during the 2023 Tet. Photo: Supplied