TET is often the answer to the crossword clue
[Vietnamese New Year] or [Lunar New Year]

TET, the [Vietnamese New Year], is a [Hanoi holiday] and an [Asian occasion] for celebration. While the West celebrated its NYE a month ago, Tết is on tap in ten days.

(We can probably expect to be buffaloed by some water buffalo puzzles come the 12th of FEB, the [Candlemas mo.] that is doubly a [Short mo.].)

Many Americans first heard of this [Three-day holiday] as part of the TET [___ Offensive of 1968]. As such, the holiday garners clues with puns like [Offensive holiday?] and [Offensive observance?], neither of which really sit right with me.

[Offensive time?] feels a little better, as it doesn’t conflate the celebration and the holiday so much.

[Holiday in which to say “Chuc mung nam moi!”]

Patrick Berry, The New York Times – Sun, May 11, 2003

I understand it’s done in good fun–and perhaps even to make the clue easier to solve–but I doubt constructors would consider cluing the [Jewish fast day] of YOMKIPPUR not as the [Day of Atonement] but as an {Offensive time?}, let alone an {Offensive observance?}.

Tet can also show up in clues for other answers, as in [Tet Offensive locale, for short] for NAM.

Here’s a few facts about TET, culled from years of clues:

  • [Holiday when sweeping and emptying the trash are considered bad luck]
  • [Vietnamese holiday with decorative orange trees]
  • [Occasion for dragon dances]
  • [Holiday when children are given red envelopes containing money from their elders]
  • [Holiday celebrated with bánh chung cakes]
Sliced bánh chưng, image via Nguyễn Thanh Quang

TET: Crossword puzzles’ [Hué holiday] can be a piece of cake

TET can also appear as part of [Banh ___ (sticky rice cake)], a Vietnamese log-shaped cake often filled with mung bean. Naturally, I suspected bánh tét was associated with and took its name from the holiday, but I was only half right.

TET crossword vietnam vietnamese new year holiday
Sliced bánh tét, image via Thang Nguyen

It turns out that:

Although bánh tét or bánh tày are made and consumed during Tết (the Vietnamese new year), the “tét” in the food’s name literally means “sliced” or “split”, possibly referring to the fact that it is served in slices. “Bánh” is used to refer to various baked and grilled food including small packages or “cakes”, sandwiches, crepes, and spring rolls. (via Wikipedia)

As a holiday, Tết is a shortened form of Tết Nguyên Đán, meaning “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day.”

For the sake of solving puzzles, it’s a good thing that EID [al-Fitr (Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan)] doesn’t come up very often, as it could join TET as another three-letter [Festival time]. And as EID means [Festival, in Arabic], one could imagine clues like {Holiday whose name means “feast” or “festival”}.

If so, just as on any gift-giving holiday, solvers would have to wait to see what’s in the boxes.

Seconds on cake, anyone? A Groundhog Day surprise

Speaking of holidays and doubles, today’s clue comes from a Universal puzzle by constructor, solving champ, and all-around crossword phenom Eric Agard.

Agard also created yesterday’s crossword for Universal, which also included TET as an answer, clued then as [Vietnamese holiday]. In fact, almost every answer in yesterday’s Universal puzzle was an answer in today’s puzzles. Agard just changed up each clue.

The only differences between the puzzles were six boxes: one in each of the them theme answers. Yesterday’s BATDOG became today’s BADDOG today; QUEENBED turned into QUEENBEE, HAMSANDWICH morphed into a JAMSANDWICH, etc.

Those changed letters, when combined in order with the three other changed letters in the remaining themers, spelled out the sense of solving today’s puzzle after doing yesterday’s: DEJAVU.

There’s been a lot of good puzzles so far this year, but perhaps this one–or two–take the cake.

Nice going, boys. You're playing yesterday's tape.

The feeling of solving today’s puzzle.


What do you think of TET as a crossword answer?