Traditional custom to celebrate Tet of the H’mong people in Moc Chau, Son La

Unlike the Kinh and other ethnic minorities in many parts of the country, Tet of the H’Mong people in Moc Chau (Son La province) begins from the last month of the lunar year and lasts for 1 month. New Year in Moc Chau is unique with Day cake, corn wine, colorful brocade, unique folk games and many special customs.


Joining a Vietnam motorcycle tour to the center of Moc Chau in this occasion, you should continue passing nearly 40km of the slope and pass rout to Ta Phinh village – one of the villages of the H’Mong ethnic group in Moc Chau plateau. This is one of the rare villages of H’Mong people still celebrate Tet according to their tradition customs: welcome traditional New Year in early December of lunar year. Here, the ethnic identity of the H’Mong is still preserved from the taste of corn wine, eating Men Men dish instead of rice, making Deo and Day cakes…

The H’Mong people prepare for the Tet holiday very attentively. From November 26 of the lunar Calendar, people in Ta Phinh village have started to work in the field to prepare for the traditional Tet. All have their jobs. Women are busy on embroidering to make the new clothes for all members in the family to wear in Tet holiday. To get new clothes for Tet, the women in the H’Mong family had to prepare about 3 months ago. Men are busy on buying necessary things, slaughtering pigs and chickens to cook a hearty meal for the family.

On the day before Tet, cleaning the house and decorating the ancestral altar are the last important tasks of the old year. The H’Mong people in Ta Phin village will choose a green bamboo shoot and tie three green, red and yellow strings with an incense to make a broom. Hmong people think that the broom will sweep away sickness, illness, the bad luck of the old year and bring good luck to the owner in the New Year. Particularly, the sweeping of the house will be carried out by the owner of the family and will take place between 3am and 4am on the 30th day of the Lunar New Year.

When the house cleaning is finished, the head of the family will decorate the ancestors’ altar. On the altar, the H’Mong people will stick a white paper cut with flower pattern which was prepared about a month ago. This white paper is replaced once a year on every 30th of Tet.

According to the traditional custom of the H’Mong people, on the first day of the Lunar New Year, local people just go to their relatives, friends, neighbors’ houses to wish everybody a Happy New Year, drink wine together and especially abstain from spending money.

In addition, all daily labor tools will be cleaned, and stuck a piece of red paper, then, all the tools will be put on the altar on the three days of Tet. According to the H’Mong people, the three days of Tet is the occasion for the owner to show their gratitude to these labor tools, consider them as good friends.  10 days later, these tools will be used again for the daily work. In the traditional Tet holiday, H’Mong people always worship house ghost and working tools. These items help H’mong people to live well.

Particularly, the tray of offerings on the 30th day of the Tet of the H’Mong people can not lack of Day cake. If the Kinh people in the lowland area always have Chung Cake and Tet Cake, H’Mong must have Day cake to worship their ancestors, heaven and earth. The H’Mong people conceive that this round cake symbolizes the moon and the sun – the origin of the human and the earth.


Fragrant sticky rice are soaked in water and cooked to become steamed glutinous rice. The steamed glutinous rice will be put in a wooden trough, the strong boys will use the pestles to grind until it become very smooth, and then wrapped with banana leaves. The first six pairs including twelve cakes which symbolize twelve months in a year will be used to worship the heaven, earth, and the God of Crops. The remaining cakes are placed in a Pomu jar to treat guests.

Taboos during Tet

In order to have a good crops and domestic animals growing fast, the H’Mong people do not step on the stove, do not let water turn off the fire in the kitchen, do not let the Day cakes being over cooked while baking, turn on the fire on three days of Tet.

H’Mong people do not welcome New Year’s Eve, but the moment of New Year’s Eve will be started from the first cock-crow at night of 30th of Tet. Mr. A Khua (Ta Phinh, Moc Chau) said: “According to the Hmong people, after the first cock crow of New Year’s Eve, if the dog makes the first cry in the New Year, it will be a lucky year. In case the scops-owl makes the first cry, it will be a very bad year.

According to the H’Mong people, during the three days of the New Year, if anyone eating rice with soup, their fields will be flooded and has a bad crop. In addition, to H’Mong people, Day cake is the symbol of the moon and the sun; therefore, eating baked Day cakes will make the eater facing alot of bad luck.

Apart from the taboos above, H’Mong people also have many concepts which bring fortune to the family during Tet. For the H’Mong people, during the three days of the Lunar New Year, if the owner can sells something, that year will be a good year of trade.  Mr. A Khua (Ta Phinh village, Moc Chau) said: “In the New Year, to buy more cattle and become richer, on the 7th or 8th of Tet, the family will go to buy a pregnant cow to take home.”

During the Lunar New Year, H’mong people in Moc Chau also organize traditional games such as Danh Cu, Pao throwing, swings playing… From the 4th, the Hmong begin to go out to play for Tet. The most beautiful dresses will be shown up on this occasion. Thus, the vibrant colors of the dresses together with the colors of the flowers of apricot blossom, plum blossom and peach blossom make the highland Moc Chau become very impressive.


The beautiful scenery of Moc Chau in Son La province captivates the heart of all people coming to this land. Besides, the customs of the ethnic hill tribes here, especially the Mong people always make many visitors feel excited to discover. Therefore, the Motorbike tours Vietnam to Moc Chau are always an ideal choice for any passionate traveler.

Please contact with Adv Motorcycle Tours and Dirtbike Travel to book the best tour to Moc Chau which well designed basing on your time, interest and riding level.