Happy Chinese, Vietnamese, & Lunar New Year!
This is a near and dear holiday for me, growing up in a mixed culture home, my father – born stateside, and my mother, from Vietnam - diversity didn’t strike me as something to attain, but was every part of my being. Celebrating Vietnamese holidays was just a part of our family tradition.
Vietnamese New Year, also known as Tết or Tết Nguyên Đán is the most important holiday in Vietnamese tradition. It is celebrated on the same day as the Chinese New Year and welcomes the new Lunar year. But there are differences, mainly from the time difference of each nation’s capital: Beijing and Hanoi differ in time zones which results in a differing calculation of the new moon starting the New Year, as well as each country’s history and traditions.
Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries where there’s a strong Chinese influence and population (such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns throughout the world).
Like Chinese New Year, Vietnamese New Year is a very festive time where families focus on what’s to come in the new year, letting bygones of the past go, honoring loved-ones who are no longer with them, and wishing prosperity to all. This is especially memorable, as parents and older generation Vietnamese would give lucky money envelopes to their children and grandchildren (or anyone considered a youth and unmarried) filled with money to use in the New Year.
Other traditions would be for families to clean their homes and prepare delicious meals – from crispy fried Vietnamese eggrolls, or chả giò, to a delicious combination of steamed rice filled meats called Bánh chưng, food is a central part of the New Year celebration – each dish features a symbolic or historic event, and brings family and friends together to remember this.
My mom in her egg-roll making element:
Her finished work – it didn’t last long on this plate:
In the DC area, celebrations can be found during the weeks leading up to the New Year, including the Chinese New Year Parade in Washington DC held on Chinese New Year Day and starts at 2pm. It’s good to get to downtown early – parking and viewing spots are a premium!
In the spirit of the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year, wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year, or, as my mom would say:
Chúc mừng năm mới!