A Business Guide for Celebrating Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year in 2024

Tet, or the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, holds immense cultural importance and stands as Vietnam’s most crucial public holiday. This yearly celebration sparks increased travel, resulting in temporary business closures and the organisation of various events and festivities during the holiday season. Here is a detailed overview of the New Year Holiday, covering key considerations and expectations for businesses.

What is Tet

Tet Nguyen Dan, also known as Tet, is the most important traditional festival for the Vietnamese people. It is also the longest holiday of the year, lasting up to ten consecutive days without work. Tet is not only a time for family gatherings but also holds the significance of honouring ancestors and the cultural traditions of the country.

Tet marks a major cultural festival aligning with the Lunar New Year in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Places with substantial Chinese communities, such as Singapore, also actively celebrate Lunar New Year. Other Asian countries, such as South Korea and Vietnam, likewise observe their own lunar new year festivities.

Additional details on the Tet Vietnam 2024 festive agenda

In Vietnam, people primarily center Tet around preserving old traditions and spending quality time with family. It holds great significance for the majority of Vietnamese who prioritise visiting their parents during this festive period. As the holiday approaches, there is a noticeable spike in the cost of flight and train tickets, as people residing in major cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang make their way back to their respective hometowns.

vietnam traffic during tet holiday

The festival’s date is determined by the Lunisolar calendar and can therefore occur anytime between January 21 and February 20. This year, the transition from the Year of the Cat to the Year of the Dragon will commence on February 10, although preparations typically begin after the Western New Year. In 2024, Tet will take place from Thursday, February 8, 2024 to Wednesday, February 14, 2024.

In Vietnam, the preparation and consumption of traditional foods during Tet hold significant cultural importance. Dishes like banh chung symbolise the harmonious connection between humans and nature. Braised pork dishes, such as thit kho, represent prosperity, while pickled vegetables and candied fruits provide refreshing contrasts and symbolise balance and happiness. These foods not only offer gustatory enjoyment but also convey well-wishes, preserving cultural values during the festive Tet celebrations.

vietnam food in tet holiday

Red envelopes, known as li xi in Vietnamese, are frequently presented to children, junior colleagues, and support staff during the Lunar New Year period. The essence of these red packets lies in the symbolism of energy, happiness, and good luck associated with the colour red. Hence, the act of giving a red envelope is regarded as a gesture conveying positive wishes, happiness, and good fortune to the recipient.

vietnam customs in tet holiday

What Customs Do Business Follow During Tet?

Business owners and international employers should recognise the tradition of granting a Tet bonus to every employee, which may equal or even surpass a monthly salary. While the Tet bonus is not a requirement by law, it plays a vital role in increasing employee satisfaction and maintaining a stable workforce. At Away Digital Teams, we proudly extend this tradition to our staff as a gesture of appreciation for their hard work and dedication.

Our commitment to honouring cultural practices extends to distributing Tet gifts and hosting annual New Year celebrations

Many foreign employers have experienced the loss of valuable staff after the holidays, often due to the lack of a Tet bonus. Considering that the Lunar New Year is a peak time for job changes, it is crucial to use the bonus as a motivational tool to both encourage and retain employees. In the absence of a fixed rate, the determination of compensation should be based on the employees’ work performance and the success of the organisation. While employees have the right to take a holiday break, there may be instances where certain businesses require or provide opportunities to work during this period, depending on the nature of their operations or specific demands. This practice appears to be more prevalent among foreign businesses as compared to local counterparts. However, to facilitate this, employers are responsible for providing penalty rates to their employees. Additionally, companies have the option to reward employees in alternative ways. For example, it is common for businesses to offer Lunar New Year incentives, such as providing train tickets for employees to return to their hometowns and valuable items like household appliances and motorbikes (which are widely used in Vietnam).
In the business context, it is customary to exchange gifts with partners or clients. Typically, these gifts consist of imported delicacies or wine. Many people opt to purchase gift hampers which include a variety of items such as cookies, chocolates, fruit baskets, wine, soft drinks, and other treats. The assortment of gifts is meant to symbolise wishes for a prosperous and successful new year. According to a report from Statista in 2020, the most popular gifts for business partners were spirits, wine, and local delicacies.vietnamese gives each other gift baskets during tet holidayThis tradition may present difficulties for foreign businesspeople from Western countries, as gift-giving is often viewed as a form of bribery and is heavily regulated in compliance with various regulations. However, it is important to acknowledge and communicate the cultural differences and customs to headquarters overseas, as exceptions may need to be made in order to accommodate the local business culture.In the professional work environment, it is also customary to extend warm wishes to clients for a prosperous new year by using the traditional greeting “Chuc Mung Nam Moi”. As a token of appreciation and well wishes, it is highly recommended to send either a physical card or an e-card to your partner offices. While gifts may not be obligatory, this gesture of sending greetings is a thoughtful way to foster and maintain valued partnerships.

Do businesses shut down during the Tet holiday?

The short answer is yes. In 2024, Tet will occur on February 10, resulting in a seven-day closure for businesses and factories in Vietnam. This period encompasses five days designated by the Viet Nam Labour Code for the Tet holiday, as well as an additional two days falling on the weekend for the 2024 Lunar New Year.

Vietnam’s Public Holidays 2024

During this time, it is important to note that banks and schools will be closed. Following the holiday, most businesses will gradually reopen within the first week and begin planning their production. However, some may require additional time to fully prepare for regular operations.

It is also noted that millions of migrant workers in major cities will return to their hometowns to celebrate Lunar New Year with their families. This may result in crowded airports, bus and train stations prior to the holiday, and quieter streets in the cities. Domestic travel, particularly between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, usually experiences a significant increase during this time.

What are the possible delays following the Vietnamese Lunar New Year?

Following the Tet holiday, it is expected that there will be an adjustment period as employees transition back into the workplace. During this time, operations may experience a temporary slowdown as employees reestablish their work routines. Staff members will need some time to catch up on emails, messages, and work tasks, which may result in a backlog of communications immediately after the holiday.

There might be delays in transportation and logistics as businesses and services gradually return to normal operations. These delays may affect the movement of goods, documents, and other materials, potentially impacting project timelines.

Additionally, some employees may take extra time off or stagger their return to work after the holiday season. This could affect the availability of staff for meetings, collaborations, and other work activities.

Here’s to a successful and prosperous year ahead in 2024

In a professional environment, celebrating and honouring Tet together is a way to build corporate culture and promote team spirit. Through this, people can return to work after the holiday with renewed energy and enthusiasm, working together to achieve goals and success in the new year. For businesses, the Lunar New Year period in Vietnam underscores the importance of proactive planning and communication. Businesses should be cognisant of potential delays and challenges and consider strategic adjustments to ensure resilience during this period and maintain a smooth operation.

In accordance with this sentiment, Away Digital Teams wishes you a profitable, accomplished, and robust New Year of the Dragon! Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

Please note that the Away Digital Teams Vietnam office will be closed from COB Thursday, Feb 8th 2024 to Wednesday, Feb 14th 2024 and will re-open on Thursday, Feb 15th 2024. For more information, please contact us at info@awaydigitalteams.com

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Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What are some common Tet customs observed by businesses in Vietnam beyond bonuses and gift-giving?

Some common Tet customs observed by businesses in Vietnam beyond bonuses and gift-giving include decorating the workplace with traditional Tet symbols, organising company-wide Tet parties or gatherings, and offering traditional Tet foods and snacks to employees.

How do businesses typically handle staffing during the Tet holiday period, especially if some employees choose to work or take time off?

Businesses typically handle staffing during the Tet holiday period by allowing employees to take time off to celebrate with their families. Some businesses may operate with a skeleton staff or reduced hours during this time, while others may require employees to work based on the nature of their operations and specific demands. Employers often communicate their expectations regarding staffing arrangements well in advance to ensure smooth operations during the holiday period.

Are there any specific cultural or religious rituals associated with Tet that businesses should be aware of when planning their operations during this period?

There are several cultural and religious rituals associated with Tet that businesses should be aware of when planning their operations during this period. For example, it is customary for families to visit pagodas or temples to pray for good luck and prosperity in the new year. Additionally, many people observe ancestral worship rituals, where they pay respects to their deceased ancestors by offering incense, food, and other offerings. Understanding and respecting these rituals can help businesses foster a culturally sensitive and inclusive environment during Tet.

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