As a Vietnamese-American, I celebrate two types new years. The New Year that happens on the 1st of January and Lunar New Year, also known as Tết which was celebrated on the 19th of February. Tết may also be known as Chinese New Years to many because it occurs on the same day with the exception of Vietnam being 1 hour earlier than China. 2015 is the year of the goat.
In preparation for Lunar New Years, people will clean their houses and decorate with flowers such as, cherry blossom tree or Hoa anh đào and yellow chrysanthemum or Hoa cúc. In that past years, my parents would buy orchids but this year they didn’t because it requires a lot of caring for. For the cherry blossom tree, my family would decorate it with red envelopes (without any money) and fake fire crackers.
Food and Dancing
When Lunar New Year actually comes, families will get together and celebrate with food and in some events, they’ll go and watch dragon/lion dancing. Some traditional food or sweets include Banh Chung, Banh Tét, and Xôi (sticky rice). The picture below is Banh Tét with mung beans or đậu xanh. In some cases, people will either make or buy Banh Tét with bananas as well. Most places that are heavily populated by asians will have dragon/lion dances. Lion dances will have drumming and cymbals in the background as seen in this video. In some cases, people will go up to the lion to give Li Xi or red lucky envelopes to the people dancing in the lion.
Li Xi/Lucky Red Envelopes
The most exciting part for children during Lunar New Year is the money or Li Xi. After eating, elders such as uncles, aunts, grandparents, and parents will line up to give the children their Li Xi in exchange for greetings. Usually elders stop giving Li Xi to people who have finished college and have jobs. But in my family case, the oldest person to still get it would probably be in their late 20s. Greetings would include “Chúc Mừng Năm Mới. Chúc (insert name) sống lâu trăm tuổi.” This translates to: Happy new years. I wish (insert name) that you’ll live a long life of 100 years. Others include: Sức khỏe dồi dào translating to plenty of health, Tiền vô như nước translating to may money flow like a river.
The only known gambling game that my family used to play would be Bầu cua cá cọp. The board consists of 6 circles that have pictures of a fish, a prawn, a crab, a rooster, a gourd, and a deer. The way the game works is the better places their bets on whatever picture they think the three dices will land on and if it does, if one die lands with the picture, the better receives the same amount as their original bet. If two dice lands on the picture with their bet, the better receives two times their money and lastly, if three dice correspond with a bet, the better receives three times their money. Other games would be like card games or even bingo.
There are other things that I might have not known or covered in this blog post. Please tell me if there are traditions that you do during this time.
Next blog post will probably be a tutorial on how to make tiramisu or a manga recommendation post.