While we had a fantastic New Year celebration here in Saigon on December 31, The Lunar New Year is coming up in February, and the excitement around Ho Chi Minh City is palpable.

The Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday in Vietnam (and in many Asian countries). We’ve been told that, because so many people travel to spend the holiday with their families across the country, the streets of Saigon will be empty. With close to 10 million people living in the city, I’m curious to see if this is true. I mean, even if lots of people travel, I can’t imagine that it will be deserted. (We’ll see!)

The date of the Lunar New Year (called Tet in Vietnam) shifts a bit, coordinating with the date of the second new moon after the winter solstice. So, in 2024, the new year will begin on February 10th.

Lunar New Year street decor in Saigon
Lunar New Year decor in Saigon

Decorations and lights are going up around the city. Lanterns and flowers are everywhere, and we regularly see people, dressed in traditional Vietnamese attire taking pictures with the beautiful decor as the backdrop.

Lunar New Year street decor in Saigon

Lunar years are identified by 12 animals. As the story goes, the zodiac signs represent the first 12 animals that raced and made it through The Heavenly Gates of the Jade Emperor. The Emperor then made them the guardians of the gates.

Flower and lantern street decor for Lunar New Year in Saigon

Just like the signs of the Astrological Zodiac (Gemini, Leo, Taurus, etc.) these signs align with a person at birth.

However, instead of a sign based on the month you were born, your lunar sign is attached to the year you were born. Each of the animals of the zodiac have their own personalities and traits. For instance, I was born in 1959, which is one of the years associated with the Pig.

Lunar New Year street decor in Saigon

“Pigs are cool-headed and capable in any situation, detailed-oriented, intelligent, free-spirited, and a little too generous. They’re passionate and enthusiastic, well-liked by friends who’ll be there for Pig unconditionally because Pig was there for them.”

Other birth years that are Pigs are 1935, 1947, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031. You can click here if you want to see a website that will tell you what your Chinese Zodiac animal is (based on what year you were born) as well as the traits assigned to it.

Lunar New Year Dragon street decor in Saigon

It’s fun experiencing this traditional Asian holiday in person. As we count down midnight on February 9th, the Year of the Rabbit (2023) will end, and the Year of the Dragon (2024) will begin.

So, let me be the first to wish you Chuc Mung Nam Moi! (The way to say Happy New Year in Vietnamese.)

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