Vietnamese New Year Event GCK

Tet Nguyen-Dan Vietnamese New Year Celebration

The Tet Nguyen-Dan Vietnamese New Year is a unique tradition in the Garden City community. Tet Nguyen-Dan, often referred to as Tet, is a celebration of the arrival of Spring and the start of the New Year based on the Vietnamese calendar. This New Year is generally celebrated in January or February.

The Tet celebration has been a tradition in Garden City since 1975. The vice president of Garden City’s Vietnamese Association, Mitch Young, explains that this special day is a celebration of New Year’s, Independence Day, and one’s birthday. That’s right, the Vietnamese community all celebrate their birthday on the same day. That calls for a big festival!

This day is filled with worshipping the ancestors, wishing New Year’s greetings, and giving ‘lucky money’ to children. The ‘lucky money’ is usually in the form of $2 bills sealed inside of red envelopes. Often, families will clean the house the day before Tet because sweeping on New Year’s is taboo. Cleaning on Tet is said to be sweeping the good fortune out of the house. To bring good fortune into the New Year, tradition says to invite lucky, well-mannered guests into the home. An important part of Tet is visiting family and friends to spread the good luck in the community. 

The Vietnamese Association often hosts the celebration at a local restaurant with family and friends. They invite local officials, including the mayor, who are guests of honor on this special day. The Vietnamese community actively share their culture with Garden City. Not only do they invite Garden City natives out of kindness, but they also hope to share the traditions they hold dear with the city that they call home.  

On Tet, the Vietnamese population of Garden City gather to light incense and clear the air in remembrance of their ancestors. The vice president of the Vietnamese Association describes this practice as a way of showing gratitude to their ancestors and to ask for longevity and good luck in the coming year.

Food always brings people together during the holidays. There is no lack of Vietnamese delicacies at Tet. Sticky rice and meat fillings are wrapped in banana leaves and shaped like squares and circles, to represent the Earth and the Moon respectively. Guests of honor also enjoy a traditional meal of pork belly stewed in coconut juice overnight. These treats are served along with pickled onion, cabbage, and leeks at the table. The sweet desserts include coconut candy and peanut brittle.

The Vietnamese New Years’ Eve in Garden City is filled with children running around with ‘lucky money,’ a feast, and a dragon dance. This mesmerizing performance includes a dragon costumed that is manned by at least three dancers. The colorful, handmade dragon winds its way through the crowd to the beat of the drums. Each movement is a dance with good fortune and the historical past. Spectators are usually armed with firecrackers to add excitement to the traditional display. The dragon dance is a highlight of this beautiful, annual celebration. 

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