The full moon day of the first lunar month: Meaning and things should do

The full moon of January is the first full moon day of the new year; the old custom is called Tet Nguyen Tieu. On this day, Vietnamese people often go to Buddhist temples to pray for the well-being of themselves and their families.

  1. The meaning of the full moon day of January

The meaning of the full moon day of January

Lunar New Year means the first full moon night of the new year. "Nguyen" is the first, "Tieu" is the night. Tet Nguyen Tieu is also known as Thuong Nguyen New Year because of Trung Nguyen Tet (full moon in July) and Ha Nguyen New Year (full moon in December). Tet Nguyen Tieu is an important Tet holiday, so our grandparents have a saying: "A year-round offering is not equal to the full moon of January" or "The year-round Buddha festival is not equal to the full moon day of January."

In addition, the full moon of January is also known as "late Tet" because it takes place right after the Lunar New Year. This time is an opportunity for unfortunate families with loved ones to be sick or to be away on the right occasion of the Lunar New Year to have a chance to gather with family. 

Depending on economic conditions and customs, each family and region's complete moon meal offerings may be different on this holiday. Still, they all show the respect and gratitude of their children and grandchildren to the family. Buddhas, saints, grandparents, ancestors, may you have a peaceful, lucky, and prosperous year. According to custom, on the night of the 15th day of the first lunar month (the night of the full moon of January), anywhere in the city or in the countryside, everywhere will hang lanterns with flowers (currently minimal) and perform full moon worshiping ceremonies.

Things to do on the full moon day of January

  1. Going to the temple
  2. Do good deeds
  3. Set free

Going to the temple


Going to the temple at the beginning of the year often means praying for peace, luck, and health; successful work for the whole year, especially on the Lunar New Year, is even more advisable to go to the temple.

When going to the temple, people pay attention not to buy salty ceremonies, only offer vegetarian food to the three treasures at the temple, and dress respectfully and discreetly. Most importantly, we must have a sincere, calm attitude, do not ask for material things. When the Covid-19 epidemic was complicated, when going to worship Buddha, people needed to pay more attention to keeping their distance at least 2m, wear a mask and spray hand sanitizer every time you enter the temple.

Do good deeds


Doing good deeds is considered a noble gesture of each person in life. This behavior helps those less fortunate and creates peace in the soul of the giver himself. Since then, energy spreads better and more meaningful values.

Set free


Freeing animals is considered one of the things to do on the full moon day of January. Some animals are often released on this day, such as carp, ornamental fish, sparrows, turtledoves, pigeons, crabs, eels, snails, Turtles, or any other animals you see in the market they sell as food. You can use the money to redeem the body for that animal and release it, preferably in rivers and large lakes or into the temple's pond.

At the same time, you should choose a deserted place with no hunters to ensure that all kinds of animals can live when released.

For example, if you release fish, wait for the fish to swim away and then go home. Do not hold buckets or plastic bags and throw them into ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. Let's release life consciously and protect the environment; then, this good act will carry its inherent meaning.

Some notes when making offerings on the full moon day of January

The full moon day of January is considered one of the important occasions of the year, so the offering tray needs to be well prepared and complete. Flowers used to worship on the altar must be fresh flowers, so choose yellow chrysanthemums, marigolds, and white lilies to offer to the altar. For fruits, choose five fruits with bright and delicious colors.


On the full moon day of January, families can buy two ceremonies: Buddha worshiping tradition and ancestors worshiping ceremony.

  • The Buddha worshiping ceremony is a pure vegetarian tray consisting of incense, flowers, lamps, candles, fresh fruit, if necessary, sticky rice, vegetarian tea can be served.
  • An ancestor worshiping ceremony also includes flower incense, candle lights, and another betel nut, wine, and a savory or vegetarian meal consisting of many dishes such as boiled chicken, spring rolls, stir-fried plates, and soup bowls.
  • The two ceremonies must be kept separate, the Buddha offerings should be placed on the upper board, and the ancestor's offerings should be placed on a table below, then burned incense.
  • The utensils used to hold the offerings to Buddha and ancestors, such as bowls, plates, chopsticks, spoons, need to use new or separate items.
  • When burning incense, people often light in odd numbers because odd numbers represent the negative part. Therefore, it is possible to glow 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9 incense sticks on each incense bowl.
  • When burning incense, it is necessary to dress neatly and appropriately. Do not wear shorts, blazers, or sloppy clothes.
  • When making vows, it is necessary to seamlessly and sincerely worship to show respect to the Buddhas, gods, and ancestors.
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