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Lunar New Year

Chinese American artist Kam Mak created the new Forever stamp
Photo Credit: latimes.com

#haiku – A Prosperous Wish

Radiant blossoms
Joy overflowing within
Life begins anew

Hello everyone! Just want to let you know that I’ll be gone for the first week of February celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) with my family. In the mean time, I would like to share a few fun facts about the celebration and a hope for a better 2019 year for all of you! There are several countries throughout South, East, and West Asia that celebrate the new year based on the lunar and solar cycle as well.

Lunar New Year is coordinated by the phases of the moon and based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. So every year the lunar new year falls on a different day. The recent lunar eclipse was fascinating, wasn’t it?

Photo Credit: express.co.uk – Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse

Tet celebrates the arrival of spring. It’s an occasion to forget the troubles of the past and hope for a better new year. Typically there is a spring festival called Hoi Xuan. There’s lion dances and festivities in oriental market squares. Some churches celebrate by lighting up Chinese lanterns at night, organize a carnival, play some games, and host entertainment.

Chinese musicians and dancers perform a lion dance under red lantern decorations during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth in Beijing February 2, 2011. Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is China’s biggest holiday, giving migrant workers their only chance of returning to their home provinces with gifts and money for the family. It represents the world’s biggest annual mass migration of humans. UPI/Stephen Shaver
Photo Credit: inkxlenses.tumblr.com

Families typically prepare by cleaning up their homes and creating or buying special holiday food such as banh chung, banh tet bamboo soup, sticky rice, sweet coconut/ginger/sesame peanut brittle candies.

New year greetings are typically shared along with giving lucky money to children or elderly in bright red and gold envelopes called “Li Xi”

Photo Credit: Beth Williams

There are variations on how Vietnamese families pay their respects to ancestors that have passed away and invite their spirits to celebrate with them. In my family, we typically set up and decorate an altar like in the picture below.

Photo Credit: waittravel.com

Many women and girls of all ages enjoy wearing colorful and elegant ao dai dresses to celebrate the occasion.

Miss Vietnam 2010 photo shoots with children during Tet season
Photo Credit: english.vov.vn
Photo Credit: news.zing.vn

If you guys are more curious about the language, here are some common Vietnamese Lunar New Year phrases and vocabulary. Pronunciation is another story! 🙂 (Credit: Tumblr.com)

Phrases

  • Chúc Mừng Năm Mới: Happy New Year
  • Cung Chúc Tân Xuân: Gracious wishes of the new spring
    Sống lâu trăm tuổi:  Long life of 100 years (said by children to elders in exchange for lucky money)
  • An khang thịnh vượng: Security, good health, and prosperity
  • Vạn sự như ý: May myriad things go according to your will
  • Sức khỏe dồi dào: Plenty of health
  • Cung hỉ phát tài: Congratulations and be prosperous
  • Năm mới dồi dào sức khỏe: I wish you a healthy new year 
  • Năm mới tấn tài tấn lộc: I wish you a wealthy new year 
  • Năm mới toàn gia bình an: I wish that the new year will bring health to all your family 
  • Vạn sự như ý: All wishes come true 

Vocabulary

  • Tết Nguyên Đán: Vietnamese New Year Lunar Festival
  • Nhận tiền lì xì: to receive “lucky money”
  • Lì xì / tiền mừng tuổi: “lucky money”   
  • đi chùa để cầu …: Go to pagoda to pray for…
  • gói Bánh chưng: Make Chung cake
  • trang trí nhà cửa: Decorate the house
  • Đi chợ hoa: Go to flower market
  • Thăm bà con bạn bè: Visit relatives and friends
  • Xem pháo hoa: Watch fireworks
  • Đường phố được trang trí với những dây đèn đầy màu sắc: streets are decorated with lines of colorful lights
  • Hoa đào: peach blossom
  • Hoa mai: apricot blossom
  • Cây quất: The kumquat tree
  • Gạo nếp: Sticky rice
  • Đậu xanh: Green beans 
  • Mỡ lợn: Fatty pork
  • Chúc Tết nhau: exchange New Year’s wishes  
  • Bao lì xì: red envelope
  • Ăn diện: dress up
  • Đánh bài: play cards
  • Dưa hấu; watermelon 
  • Dừa: coconut
  • Xoài: mango
  • Đu đủ: papaya
  • nhang: incense
  • Bàn thờ: altar
  • Mê tín: superstitious 
  • Điều cấm kỵ: taboo
  • Quét nhà: sweep the floor
  • Vào ngày mùng một Tết: on the first day of Tet 
  • Đưa ông bà: Bid their ancestor farewell