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By: Hoan K. Trinh

So about every February, there is this celebration known as the Lunar New Year.  In the United States, it often goes by the misnomer: the Chinese New Year.  This is a misnomer because no one in Asia make any reference to China when they refer to this particular holiday.  In Vietnam, this holiday is commonly call “Our New Year” versus “Western New Year” which refers to the Gregorian calendar use in western countries.  You can make the argument that the Vietnamese terminology is also a misnomer because “Western” really just mean France.  In short, everyone in the world either celebrate the Chinese or the French new year, great!!!

In Asian countries, the Lunar New year is the biggest holiday of the year.  Unlike their western counterpart, Asian people also celebrate the Western New Year but that celebration is fairly muted compare to that of the Lunar New Year.  I do not know all of the customs of the Lunar New Year or how the Lunar New Year is calculated, but I never say no to celebrating holidays.

In the United States, to wish someone luck on for the new year, people just say….Happy New Year.  In Vietnamese culture, however, in order to wish someone a happy new year, you have to actually have to make them a wish.  Most people wishes are something along the line of good health, good money, and good grade in school for the children.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year in the United States is a bit different from celebrating it in Vietnam.  The Vietnamese communities in the United States are much smaller so there is little holiday spirit.   I went to a Lunar New Year celebration held by the Vietnamese community in Connecticut and here are some photos from the event.

Tet is a time for to honor your ancestors for everything that they have given you.  Oh, for those who are not Vietnamese, Tet is the Vietnamese term for the Lunar New Year.

For Vietnamese living abroad, Tet always include a moment of silent for the victim of the Tet Offensive of 1968.  The victim of Hue are specifically acknowledged.

But otherwise, Tet is a day for the children.  The dragon dance always draw a crowd.  Firecrackers would also get a lot of attention from the children but it was probably deemed unsafe by the Connecticut Health Department.

Posing next to these fake dragon can be quite a devastating experience for some.

Feeding the dragon with money.

Now they want their money back 🙂

All the children always get excited to the get their Li Xi for the Lunar New Year.  Li Xi is just simply money given for good luck in the new year.  As of today, Li Xi has NOT been commercialized to include gift card.  There is a saying that Vietnamese women do not like gift, they just want money………probably have something to do with the differences in custom between Christmas and the Lunar New Year.

A cute kid at Tet, I don’t she completely understand what’s going on but she sure enjoyed feeding the dragon that day.


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