“TET” 2002 – Vietnamese Year of the Horse
By Jackie Bong-Wright
At the Gunston Senior Citizens’ Center in Arlington, Virginia, about 150 seniors celebrated Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, on January 22, with five tasty Vietnamese dishes, a dragon dance, and an exotic show. Mrs. Nellie Urbach, manager of the Center, and Mr. Than, the Vietnamese staff person, welcomed the guests, who had come from different senior homes in the area.
To start the program, Mr. Buu Le, Vice-Chairman of the Vietnamese Senior Citizens’ Association, Washington area, explained the meaning of Tet. He said that the current year of the Snake would be replaced by the year of the Horse on February 12, according to the lunar calendar. He continued, “ It is the most important holiday in Vietnam. It is the rebirth of spring, the renewal of resolutions, the return to Vietnamese culture and traditions.”
During Tet, people practice “li xi”, a form of money-giving from adults to children using a small red envelope, a sign of good fortune and good luck. Relatives and friends visit each other, wearing new clothes, to rid themselves of bad fortune from the previous year, and exchange gifts such as fruit, chocolate, or liquor. During the three-day-celebration following February 12, people decorate their homes with red banners and flowers, mostly marigold, chrysanthemum and gladioli, to welcome the new year. People also relish eating boiled “banh chung, banh tet,” traditional square or round-shaped sticky rice with yellow beans and pork, wrapped in banana leaves.
“Tet is a time to grow up for children. People exhort them to study better and become wiser. As for adults, they hope to be more prosperous in health and finance, and the elders try to improve their living conditions and those of their community,” Mr. Buu Le concluded.
Ms. Kim Oanh, an arts professor and her group performed a dragon dance and other traditional songs and dances. Typical Vietnamese food was served.
From now on, a number of Tet events will be organized every week by
Vietnamese students, alumni associations, and community-based organizations. To give a few examples, the Vietnamese Cultural Association will hold a classical music performance with piano, guitar, bamboo flute, violin, viola, cello, bass and drums at Ernst Community Center, Annandale campus, on Saturday, January 26 from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
The Vietnamese Community will have a Tet and Health Fair on Saturday, February 9, at Kenmore High School in Arlington, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the Vietnamese Mutual Association of Maryland will hold their own the same day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring. The next day, Sunday, February 10, the Vietnamese Senior Citizens will hold another Tet and Health fair at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
At these big events, the public-at-large are invited to attend, but small celebrations gathering together friends and relatives, will also be held in private homes throughout the country.