Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tết - Happy Lunar New Year

Note this is a re-uploaded post from my old Tumblr -- a bit updated. Happy New Year!

TET”chúc mừng năm mới"

Pictures: my HUGE family on Tet a few years ago, traditional new years flowers, our offerings to our ancestors, traditional dragon dance

Vietnamese New Year, Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year... whatever you want to call it, it’s here!! January 31 is the date this year, and those who celebrate it have many traditions surrounding the holiday.

There’s a long list of dos and don’ts, traditions and superstitions that people choose to follow. Whether it be because they actually believe in them, or like me, like to keep the culture by following some of the traditions that my parents taught me at a young age. 

  • Everything you do on New Years will set the tone for your luck for the rest of the year. (i.e. wake up early, be a model citizen of society, forgive, give and receive) These good habits are to be kept up for at least the first 3 days when we invite our ancestors into our homes to celebrate the new year with us (and when our parents can’t scold us! :)). 
  • Start fresh - wear new clothes, have a clean house before the new year, no cleaning on new years day (no sweeping because it is thought that you will sweep your good fortune/luck out the door) 
  • Xông đất - the tradition that the one who enters the house first on new years day will bring their luck for the whole household. Thus, the most honorable person in the family should be the one to enter the house first after midnight. 
  • Visiting family and friends with gifts to practice the act of spreading compassion, which includes our favorite little red envelopes, li xi. Elders traditionally give these envelopes filled with lucky money to the younger generation (always fresh new money — bankers always look at me strange when i deposit 18 brand new $2 bills, but the $2 bills are considered lucky since they’re “rare”). In my own family, we continue to receive money until we start having kids of our own, where we start to give our own li xi and our children are able to collect it. In order to receive these, one must wish their elder with good luck, health, and prosperity for the year. 
  • Go to temple - There’s something at temple called "Xin Sam" which is similar to getting your fortune told for the year. There’s a bamboo cup filled with little numbered sticks, you shake it until a stick falls out. Then you find your corresponding paper with the fortune on it. 
Hope that you all have a great new years! What traditions do you follow?
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