The Vietnamese Lunar New Year is always the biggest occasion many foreign travelers aspire to explore in their Vietnam cultural tours. Which is known as Tet in the native language. However, apart from this sensational occasion, there’s another Tet that not many travelers are aware of, yet it helps form a spectacular cultural feature of a famous ethnic group in the Northwestern lands of Vietnam. In this article, we bring you a closer look to Tet Doc Lap, a vibrant Independent Festival held by the H’mong people inhabiting Northwest Vietnam.
The story behind another lesser-known Vietnamese Tet
Tet Doc Lap is formed by two smaller parts: Tet meaning Festival, and Doc Lap meaning Independent. This H’mong Independence Festival was first celebrated in 1946, when Vietnam gained independence after an 80-year colonization by the French. Since then, Tet Doc Lap has been constantly celebrated for many years later on until the present day.
H’mong women are picking their festive oufits (Source: Google)
As a matter of fact, Tet is an important event that marks the beginning of a new rhythm of life – the start of something new, fresh, abundant and fortunate, and sending off the old one. As a result, following the Independence Day of Vietnam initialized on the 2nd September 1945, the H’mong ethnic community keeps on rejoicing the event within a few days and ends it on the date of September 2nd.
Morning on the mountains (Source: Google)
The H’mong tribe is the biggest group of the indigenous dwellers living across the Northwestern side of the Red River Delta in Vietnam. They take root from the Southern parts of China and fled to Vietnam bringing their spectacular agriculture techniques. One of the most popular localities where you can spot out the H’mong is Sapa, a famous destination in Lao Cai Province in a Vietnam cultural tour.
The children are enjoying the festive ambiance (Source: Google)
When does the H’mong New Year take place?
The Independence Day of the H’mong is held from the 29th of August until the 2nd of September each year, during which the 1st of September is the most fun and vibrant day.
During the occasion, the natives of H’mong put everything together in a good amount of time beforehand. One of the most important tasks is to get a stunning traditional costume.
The girls are ready to frequent downtown (Source: Google)
The H’mong men wrap a cloth on their heads, put on a necklace and carry a syrinx on their shoulder. The ladies would be putting on their favorite flowery dresses and bring a mouth harp rushing downtown. In the sky, the red flags dance in the breeze of the mountains, whose vivid red pigment boosts up the exciting landscape.
The H’mong ladies in their compelling dresses (Source: Google)
The special rituals for the celebration of the H’mong New Year
The Independent New Year of the H’mong bears a similar role like the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, which means every H’mong household pays homage to their ancestors through various forms of worshipping.
A market downtown (Source: Google)
Whereas, the H’mong children are eager to follow their mothers to the lowland for a trip to the markets. Yet, those who aspire the day to come are the H’mong local guys and girls. During the Tet Doc Lap, the H’mong guys would be playing their traditional syrinxes, while the ladies would be showing their newly hand-made skirts filled with clever patterns on, with a silver necklace and a new pair of shoes.
In the early morning on the 1st of September, when the blocks of clouds are still blanketing the peaks of the hills, the fascinating scene of the festival has been taking the whole tribes and hamlets by storm. The villages of the Thai, Dao, Kho Mu are ready to partake in the glamorous ambiance with the H’mong.
Natives partake in the Love Market (Source: Google)
Each group of the H’mong starts feeling the beat of the festival by enjoying the spectacular cuisine, trading, and tweeting that live up the whole town.
Almost every single corner throughout the town is ignited by the vivid scenes of the Vietnamese national red flags waving in the hilly wind. The 1st day of September is also the time when the Love Market takes place in Moc Chau Plateau.
A scene in the Love Market (Source: Google)
The Market is annually held by the H”mong and flamboyantly garnished with the colorful traditional outfits. These are seen in various styles, where represent for different subgroups of the H’mong people. The Mong Do in white, Mong Du in black, Mong Si in red and Mong Lenh in flowery.
Hold my hand…! (Source: Google)
The Love Market is where the single guys and girls get to meet and greet each other. When the Sun is setting, those in pair will be spending the rest of the day on their first dates without coming home.
The guys and girls are ready to find the love of their life (Source: Google)
Join the crowds in the morning, jump in the exotic festival feast, put on the brocaded skirts and feeling the festive vibe is what the local wanderlust community love to experience in their Vietnam cultural tour to Vietnam’s Northwest. Lao Cai and Moc Chau are always the leading destinations where you can enjoy the H’mong Independent Festival to the fullest. Remember to highlight these two cities if your trip falls at the beginning of September this year!
Check out other travel guides to North Vietnam:
- This is Why You Must Visit Mộc Châu, Vietnam in September
- The ultimate guide for your trip to the Northwest of Vietnam
- Self-Plan a Trip to Mai Châu with Vietnamese Travelers’ Advice