How to celebrate a Vietnamese Tet ( the Lunar New Year) in America

How to celebrate a Vietnamese Tet ( the Lunar New Year) in America

There seems to be a consensus that Tet is the most significant festival in the Vietnamese community. Even though they are far away from their hometown, Tet is the important time for Vietnamese people to return to their family no matter where they are. It is the relevant time for them to let their children acknowledge the great meaning of Tet which is one of the core events in the Vietnamese community. Because San Jose is one of the largest Vietnamese community in America, people organize for Tet carefully that build up the right spirit of Tet in America.

In order to prepare for Tet, Vietnamese people love doing some traditional activities to refresh of a lucky year. My parents tell me that cleaning helps to remove all bad spirits from the previous year before the new year begins. Therefore, I often arrange and clean up my house annual Tet holiday that becomes one of the activities that I have been familiar with. Moreover, my parents and I prefer to go shopping end of the year so that we will start a new year with new clothes.It is worth pointing out that cooking holiday foods proves itself as a valuable activity that my family prepares together. We cook some essential foods for Tet holidays such as stir-fried rice, pig’s trotters and “Banh Chung”. On the eve of Tet, my family has a dinner together that we review for our whole year and share our stories.

My parents often buy a new Tet tree with yellow blossoms represents for the prosperous year. It is decorated with ornaments hung from their branches. However, when I move out to my new house, I do not have time to do that. As the result, when my parents come to my house, they frequently remind me about that. Another spiritual activity is to burning paper models to let the spirits of ancestors return to heaven after they celebrate the Tet with the family. Since I am not familiar with this ritual, I have never practiced this activity.

Since the first day of new year is the most important day, my parents and I often take a day-off to celebrate in America. One of the essential rituals in Vietnamese culture is that my parents and I will light incense sticks and pray for my family’s happiness. In “ Who will light incense?”, Lam mentions that his mother used joss sticks to light for the ancestral altar. Next, “She mumbles a solemn prayer to the spirits of our dead ancestors” (Lam, p.69). There is no doubt that lighting incense proves itself as a spiritual activity because the altar cannot lack the presence of sticks of traditional incense. Vietnamese people believed that slowly burning sticks of incense are what connect living people to the spiritual world.

After having the first breakfast of the year, we go to the church where we pray for a prosperous coming year. Next, we visit our relatives that we share the lucky wishes and lucky money.

No matter how long we live far away from our hometown, we attempt to preserve our traditional culture well that represents for Vietnamese’s spirit in America. There is no doubt that the more our family spends time together, the more our relationship is tightened. It is fortunate to stay near to Vietnamese community where people frequently organize a great number of Tet activities such as firework and lion dance. One of the core activities that most of the Vietnamese people love is to sing Karaoke. In “ Singing in the family”, Lam states that “everyone was asked to pick and sing a song on the Karaoke machine” so people can express their feeling while they are singing. Singing Karaoke becomes the favorite activity when Vietnamese people take part in family or friend reunion at their home. The more traditional activities organize, the longer Vietnamese culture keeps. Based on these activities, the young generation gets a precious chance to acknowledge the beauty of their homeland culture.

I highly recommend not only Vietnamese people but also immigrants who live far away from the homeland to read this meaningful book-East Eats West is the most impressive book that I read when I moved to America. This book can inspire you how to start your new life in the new country.

The author is Andrew Lam who received many awards such as Outstanding Young Journalist Award, PEN Open Book Award and so on. He is a Vietnamese who was forced into exile from Vietnam as a boy. In East Eats West, Lam explores these contradictions and transformations while describing his own path to discovering his voice. I enjoyed his stories because it seems to represent the story of my life.



Amy Nguyen

Amy Nguyen

I feel happy to share my experiences with you about Travel - Food - Life around the world. I hope to inspire you to Live-Love- Laugh :)



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