Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tet The Viet Namese Lunar New Year Celebration

    I will make an effort here to capture a few of the important traditions around Tet, the Vietnamese celebration of the lunar new year.  As I mentioned last time all Vietnamese honor and respect the ancestors.  A major aspect of Tet is that it is a family reunion.  This reunion includes both the living and family members who are now in spirit.  It takes place at the parents home so the Vietnamese people are eager to get back home during this time.
    There is a great deal of partying and drinking in the days leading up to Tet.  Believe me when I say it has begun and is ramping up right now.  Although Tet lasts three days some celebrations go on for a week.......or a month.  Why?  This is THE big holiday.  Like all of our US holidays rolled into one and the people need a break.
During this time people are nice to each other and wish each other three important things. First is health, second is happiness, and third is prosperity, in that order.
     There is a traditional dish that is prepared called Banh Chung.  As I understand it this is a rice cake about the size of a softball and inside there is pork, pork fat and green beans.  There is about 20 hours of preparation and cooking that go into this important dish.  I may  have some corrections about this later but for now let's say it is even more important than the traditional US Thanksgiving meal.
    There are many pieces of mythology around Tet and the one I remember a little of is that of the kitchen god.  Each home is visited by the kitchen god who stays in the kitchen and sits at the table.  After Tet he reports to God about the people.  Everyone wants to be sure to have things just right for the kitchen god.
     We all know we must ring out the old before ringing in the new.  In that way Tet is no different.  Today at the program house all of the staff was there for the year end celebration.  Offerings of candy and colored bits are thrown into the street and a paper alter is burned along with colored pieces of paper.  Victor and I were involved in all of this as well as picking out the yellow flowering bushes.  Then there was a big feast.  I gotta tell ya the Vietnamese know how to throw a party!
     For now I am going to stop yapping and put up some pictures.  I am sure I will have more about Tet for a few more entries.

Here is the traditional rooster that is prepared for the year end celebration.

Here the tables are out front and we are preparing to burn the paper alter seen at the end of the table.  Below you will see our yellow flowering bushes.

And here we are ready to begin the feast.
I will add more about Tet as it comes along


  1. Wait... that was a ROOSTER?

    Looks like a lot of fun, Jim! I hope you are enjoying yourself!!

  2. You are having too much fun over there! Keep it up!