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Vietnam’s Year of the Cat: Vietnamese Lunar Zodiac Celebrations Explained

Written by: Grant Piper

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

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Vietnam’s Year of the Cat: Vietnamese Lunar Zodiac Celebrations Explained

If you have always been disappointed in the distinct lack of a cat in the traditional Zodiac, you will be ecstatic to learn that the Vietnamese Zodiac, a slight variation of the Chinese Zodiac, features a cat. Vietnam celebrates the Year of the Cat every 12 years as a part of their regular Lunar New Year’s celebrations.

This guide covers everything you need to know about celebrating Vietnam’s Year of the Cat, including astrology considerations when the Year of the Cat takes place, the best ways to celebrate, and why the Vietnamese honor the cat while the Chinese do not. You might even find out if you are one of the lucky few who were born in the Year of the Cat. There is a lot to learn about this special year and special holiday.

cat paw divider

When Is the Year of the Cat?

The last year of the Cat was 2023. The previous Year of the Cat was 2011. It is important to note that in Asia, these things are tracked using a lunar calendar. That means that the year typically begins in February (or late January) and proceeds to the same month of the following year. That means that the current year of the cat began on January 22nd, 2023 (Chinese New Year) and will end on February 9th, 2024. Similarly, the previous Year of the Cat began in 2011 but did not end until early 2012.

black cat lying on coastal rock
Image Credit: Galina Photo, Shuttersttock

What Are the Upcoming Years of the Cat?

There are six more Years of the Cat in the 21st century. The next Year of the Cat begins in February 2035, and the last Year of the Cat will begin in 2095 and end in 2096.

Start Date End Date Element
8 February 2035 27 January 2036 Wood
26 January 2047 13 February 2048 Fire
11 February 2059 1 February 2060 Earth
31 January 2071 18 February 2072 Metal
17 February 2083 5 February 2084 Water
5 February 2095 24 January 2096 Wood

The Elemental Cats

The Vietnamese Zodiac is unique in that it combines the Earthly Branches (Rat, Buffalo, Tiger, Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig) with a series of Heavenly Stems or Elements. The Heavenly Stems are Canh, Tan, Nham, Quy, Giap, At, Binh, Dinh, Mau, and Ky, which translates to Wood, Water, Fire, Earth, and Metal. (Metal is also sometimes translated as Gold.)

There are ten Heavenly Stems and only five elements because each of the five elements also comes with a Yin or Yang component, giving a rough translation of:

Canh Positive Wood
Tan Negative Wood
Nham Positive Water
Quy Negative Water
Giap Positive Fire
At Negative Fire
Binh Positive Earth
Dinh Negative Earth
Mau Positive Metal
Ky Negative Metal

Each one of these categories holds special meanings for the Vietnamese people, and it helps determine who is a good match and who might be astrologically opposed.

cat owner talking to his pet
Image By: Aziz Acharki, Unsplash

Year of the Cat Zodiac Profile

One of the reasons that people track the zodiac so closely is that each zodiac sign has a series of traits associated with them that supposedly dictate a person’s life. Each zodiac animal, including the cat, has a special list of traits that each person should be aware of. These lists include everything from lucky numbers to which kinds of people you should strive to match with.

Here is the Cat’s zodiac profile.

Earthly Branches of Birth Year: Tree
The Five Elements: Wood
Yin/Yang: Yin
Lunar Month: Second
Lucky Numbers: 3, 4, 6, 9
Unlucky Numbers: 1, 7, 8
Lucky Flowers: Snapdragon, plantain lily
Lucky Colors: Black, pink, purple, blue, red
Unlucky Colors: Brown, yellow, white
Season: Spring
Lucky Directions: East, South, Northwest
Unlucky Directions: North, West, Southwest
Good Match: Pig, Goat, Cat, Dog
Incompatible Match: Rooster, Rat

Year of the Cat Birth Years

If you were born in any of these years, you were born in the Year of the Cat.

  • 1903
  • 1915
  • 1927
  • 1939
  • 1951
  • 1963
  • 1975
  • 1987
  • 1999
  • 2011
  • 2023
brown cat kissing a caucasian newborn baby
Image By: Fotografia, Shutterstock

Year of the Cat Personality Traits

People born in the Year of the Cat typically embody these common traits.

  • Good judgment
  • Conservational
  • Cautious
  • Talented
  • Ambitious
  • Creative
  • Stubborn
  • Superficial
  • Selfish

When Is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year?

The Vietnamese Lunar New Year follows the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The New Year is slightly different each year according to the Gregorian calendar (the one you are most familiar with). Vietnamese New Year (also known as Tet) begins on Sat, Feb 10, 2024, which is January 1st, 2024, according to the Lunar Calendar.

How to Celebrate Vietnamese New Year (Tet)

Family Time

In Vietnam, Tet is a huge family holiday. Many people will make long journeys back to their hometowns to spend time with their extended family. Ancestor worship is also a big part of traditional Vietnamese culture, and there are numerous traditions that are dedicated to remembering and honoring those who came before. Vietnamese families will host large parties, and everyone will catch up and make plans for the year ahead.


Family time is often accompanied by feasting. Large families will host equally large feasts. People will strive to bring food to their friends and neighbors. These visits are also accompanied by traditional New Year’s greetings and gifts.

Lucky Money

One thing that children always look forward to on Lunar New Year is lucky money. It is traditional for the elders of the family to provide the youngest members with money, often coins. This money is called lucky money and is given in bright red envelopes. Children then go out and spend their lucky money on food and treats or stash it away in hopes of receiving even greater luck throughout the year.

vietnam money
Image Credit: Maciej Bledowski, Shutterstock

Set Up Your Whole Year

Many people in Vietnam believe that the actions you do on the first of the year will dictate how the rest of the year will go. People go out of their way to be kind and generous on Lunar New Year in hopes that kindness and generosity will follow them throughout the year. Some people decide to open businesses on New Year’s Day in order to create an auspicious environment for their new shop. Some people will clean or redecorate in order to promote a clean or fresh year ahead.


Parades are a big part of Tet, and if you are planning on celebrating the Vietnamese New Year, a parade should be on your list. Cities with large populations of Asians will often host Lunar New Year Parades. Parades are common in small cities in Vietnam, but they typically only happen in America’s largest cities. Cities like New York and San Francisco have Lunar New Year’s parades. But other smaller cities, such as Orlando, also host Lunar New Year festivities.

Street Festivities

The Vietnamese New Year also comes with a number of street festivities. Many people will light firecrackers or fireworks to create noise and light to ward off evil spirits. Many people mingle in the streets, sharing coins, food, and drinks with one another. There is music and dancing. Some people will take time to do kind things for strangers or clean up the area around their house.

lunar new year decorations
Image Credit: Nguyen Quang Ngoc Tonkin, Shutterstock

How Does the Vietnamese Zodiac Differ from the Traditional Chinese Zodiac?

The biggest way that the Vietnamese zodiac differs from the traditional Chinese zodiac is the presence of the Year of the Cat. In the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Cat is replaced by the Year of the Rabbit. The Vietnamese have no Year of the Rabbit and honor the cat instead.

One of the theories behind this difference is the fact that the word for rabbit in Vietnamese sounds a lot like their word for cat. Over time, this transliteration has transformed the rabbit into the cat. But it all worked out because the cat fits into the zodiac wheel flawlessly and remains opposed to the rat. In the traditional Chinese zodiac, the cat is excluded because the rat outsmarted it and pushed it into the celestial river, leaving it out of the zodiac.



Celebrating the Vietnamese New Year is a complicated and ancient endeavor. The Year of the Cat ends in February 2024, when the new Lunar New Year kicks off. The Cat comes with a whole host of traits and lucky features that everyone should know if they were born in the year of the Cat. If you want to celebrate Lunar New Year, you should find local festivities to participate in, such as parades. You should also take time out of your day to visit friends and family and host a meal in preparation for a fresh year ahead. Unfortunately, if you are only interested in celebrating the Year of the Cat, you will have to wait until 2035 to do so.

You might also like: Best Cat Advent Calendars Reviews & Top Picks

Featured Image Credit: ketlit, Shutterstock

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