Markets on the river (Floating markets)
The atmosphere of Tet Holiday in the South begins bustling at the beginning of January (in Lunar Calendar), the flower markets. Stalls are established in Tet markets in preparation for New Year's Eve with these fairs opened overnight.
The South is in the flow of the Mekong River which drains large areas so trading in all provinces in the river is an important activity. The floating markets in the river or on the banks of rivers become bustling and crowed with a lot of buyers, get unusual in some days at the end of the year. The dock stalls are decorated with colorful flowers, jams, scallion, papaya, little lucky envelopes, stickers...etc.
Colorful spring flower markets
flowers and fruits such as alcea rosea, dahlia, sunflower, rose, life plants, marigolds, daisies, pandanus, papaya and premium flowers such as tulips, euphorbia milliis, orchids.
The most attractive thing is boatloads of flowers sold in the river. The big river suddenly becomes beautiful with the boats carrying yellow chrysanthemums, roses, apricot synonymous…For the South, apricot blossom is associated with luck. An apricot branch with yellow flowers blooming on the first day is a great fun for the whole family, signaling good news for the whole year.
Five-fruit tray of Southerners always have four main fruits: custard, coconut, papaya, mango, but people in the South pronounce this word phrase as "sufficient demand for spending", adding three pillars of pineapples which represent the stability. Because the pronunciation is similar to the word “chui” (the expression of difficulty) banana is never included in this tray. Just by saying “Oranges do Tangerines suffer", the Southern people don’t get oranges in the same way of the Northern ones. In particular, the five-fruit tray of Southerners always consists of a pair of watermelons with green skins and red cores, representing loyalty and chastity of people in the South.
In the days leading up to Tet Holiday, the family will organize back to their ancestral graves to express their "drinking water, remembering its source" with the dead people. On 23nd December in the afternoon (in Lunar Calendar), people pray to the Kitchen God who returns to the Heaven. On that day, the 30th day of lunar December, they set an ancestor tray.
On the 30th or the last day of the old lunar year, people will set an ancestor tray for praying their ancestor back to their house, which is called “the custom of inviting ancestors". Until the end of Tet, the incense on the altar is always burned and and then up to 3rd January (in Lunar Calendar), people prepare a meal for "Farewell ceremony".
The meal on 30th December in the lunar year in the afternoon often gathers all of members in the family. According to the concept of people in the South, at the beginning of each year a Southern administrator controls the human world. At the end of the year, this God commissions his work to other gods so the worships and firecrackers are targeted at saying goodbye to the old God and getting the new one. The evening of 29th and 30th December are the funniest nights, people don’t sleep and long to welcome the New Year’s Eve, playing chess, eating...All people are enthusiatic for the coming of Tet.
If people in the North spend the days of New Year on visiting relatives and friends, those in the South consider New Year as an opportunity to go out and relax for the end of the old year so they often organize trips in long distances.
Meals for the days of spring
To change the tastes and preventing people from feeling fat, all families in southern regions cook the soup called Chao ca am with salads, thinly sliced green bananas and fragnant herbs, coriander, a grilled snaked head with green leaves of nenuphars or freshwater mangrove.
The southern residents specially care for the party for the new spring which show their respect to the ancestors and fully enjoy the flavour of sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness and spicy in each dish in the tray gathering all members of families in the first days of New Year with the warmth and well being.
Taboos in the early New Year
Before the point of New Year’ Eve, all members must be gathered in the house. If anyone does not return home in time, in the whole year then he must go and work hard for his business.
When one comes home to celebrate the new year in any time, homeowners also prepare a big meal, invite to drink acohol, eat cakes. Guests can not refuse this meal although they don’t feel hungry, they must sip a little while they come to one’s house at the festival.
In the new year, that brooms are stolen means next year the family’s havings will be stolen completely so it is important to keep the brush after cleaning.
On the first days of new year, the South people will not keep the miller empty because this incident causes the failures in harvests in their concept in the whole year. On the New Year's Days, they often pour little rice into the miller, implying for their wish to have the miller filled with a lot of rice in the new year.