Posted in Culture

Ethnicity Tag

Ahoy there! A month ago, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting a new follower, Stephanie @ Roses and Brimstone – A Little Heart with Extraordinary Passion! She wrote about her cultural background in a post called Ethnicity Tag which was fun and fascinating for me to read.

She was curious to learn where I came from and linked where she got her questions: 50+ Ethnicity Tag Questions. (Fortunately for you, I will not answer all 50 of them!) The site describes the distinction between race and ethnicity.

A few days ago, mom expressed to me how she was afraid of me “losing my heritage” (which I will describe another day). Since there are some new folks here, I thought this blog post would dive into a bit of that and perhaps share a little bit about me!

1.Which ethnicity do you belong to?

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I am ethnically American and Vietnamese, and classified as Asian. I was born in Texas in the United States. My parents and my grandparents are from Qui Nhon, Vietnam, a beautiful coastal city. My 23&Me DNA results shows that my ancestors are from China/Vietnam region. 🙂

2. Which food represents your ethnicity?

There is such a variety in Vietnamese cuisine. Rice dishes are a staple. Pho is a famous dish that many people in America have had a chance to try. I keep mentioning it in past posts. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do so!

3. Which ethnic language are you perfect in?

Vietnamese is a tonal language and are distinguished by three main dialects which can be classified by region: North (Hanoi), South (Ho Chi Minh City), Central (Hue). Around 80 million people in the world speak Vietnamese and is in the top 20 most spoken languages. It has many Chinese and French influences. It used to written in Chinese letters, but now uses the Latin alphabet.

I wouldn’t describe it as perfect, but I spent a good chunk of my life studying the dialect from South-Central Vietnam. I can read, write, and speak it. However, I would consider myself at a limited proficiency level in Vietnamese. I am most fluent in English and enjoy the nuances of the language. I enjoyed studying English literature in college.

4. Do you have any ethnic name?

I go by many names: Sally, Lisa, but my ethnic name is Sa! Vietnamese parents typically like to name their daughters after lovely flowers or beautiful sentiments. It directly translates to silky gossamer. Combined with other other words, it can mean a host of things. (ie- kieu sa = lovely)

5. Which phrase of your ethnic language is your favorite?

  • Bạn khỏe không (Ban Kwe Khom) = How are you?
  • Cảm ơn (kahm uhn) = Thank you!

    The following proverb is something I enjoy:
  • Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn. = A day of travelling will bring a basket full of learning.

6. Which clothes represent your ethnicity?

On special occasions such as Vietnamese holidays and weddings, I wear the traditional, gorgeous ao dai. I love the new modern styles that are coming out! If you want to view the glitz and glamorous side of Vietnamese fashion that’s trending, you can watch a renowned variety show called: Paris by Night.

Marriage gown

7. Which drink represents your ethnicity?

A few distinctive favorite drinks that I grew up with are: jasmine/green tea, coconut juice, soybean milk, grass jelly drink, sugar cane drink.

8. Which specific jewelry represents your culture?

Popular pieces are typically made of jade or gold. Images of dragons, Buddhas, crosses are common. Some of my favorite cultural pieces include: earrings, beaded peace bracelets, necklaces.

My favorite American pieces are Pandora charm bracelets or floating charm locket necklaces.

9. Which sport represents your ethnicity?

Vovinam, Dragon dance, dragon boat racing, cow racing, wrestling

Vietnamese Vovinam – martial arts
Dragon boat racing

10. Which ethnic song do I often listen to?

I’m a sucker for Korean dramas. They’re humorous, heart-breaking, or soul lifting. I just finished this Chinese drama remake called Meteor Garden. Though I have some qualms about the series, I enjoyed it. This beautiful song is not Vietnamese, but lately I’ve been listening to the entire soundtrack on replay.

Posted in Culture, Dance, Events, Food/Recipes

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
Posted in Culture, Events, Food/Recipes

Into the Spiderverse

Yesterday, the fog returned in full force! My boyfriend and I headed out to the movie theater after eating a delicious meal at a restaurant called Pho Garden. We shared some spring rolls, vermicelli pork dishes, and a tasty bowl of warm pho as we chatted about future goals, our daily plans, and life experiences. The restaurant gradually became packed with hungry customers. It was so much fun, and we licked the bowls and plates clean!

After debating between two super-hero movies, we decided to watch Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse and wow, I was blown away by the visually stunning animation and a solid cast of unique characters! Serious, dark situations were mitigated with humorous and intelligent dialogue. The antagonists in the story were intimidating and brilliant. A charming and stylish adventure, I was dazzled by how immersed I was in the whole experience: a blend of the 2-D comic book world that came to life and 3-D elements. I enjoyed the appearance of Stan Lee!

Afterward, we were still processing our roller coaster high as we stepped back into the reality of our world. While sitting next to the bowling alley and arcade, we looked at various Spiderman episodes from the 60s till present on Youtube, and I was amazed to see just how far we came along in terms of quality and speed. We discussed about what it takes to captivate audiences nowadays and wondered: If this is the bar now, what is it going to look like 40 years from now?

In response to:

Posted in Culture, flashback, Music

30-Day Song Challenge: Day 29

Today’s challenge is a song that reminds you of your childhood. I think of a lot of kid films, musicals, and sing-a-longs. 🙂

The music from the “Sound of Music” was a staple in my childhood. Edelweiss, sang by Christopher Plummer, is very touching. I played this on the piano often.

I sang a lot of Vietnamese karaoke songs for kids. My dad bought us a set of discs with karaoke tracks for us to sing along. It was my favorite stuff to sing on the weekends with my siblings. One of the lines is loosely translated, “Open the doors and let the sunshine in so we can dance and play.”

Sang “Tomorrow” from Annie for a school play when I was a child.

Really loved Disney’s Anastasia’s “Once Upon a December” and still enjoy it.

I sang Zippety Doo Dah for another school play when I was 8 years old.

Posted in Culture, Dance, Events, flashback, Nature, Photography

Flower of the Day – 10.6.18

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Good morning! Another energy boost from Cee’s photo of her dahlia! Before I head out to work today, I wanted to share rows of mums in the oriental market during the Vietnamese New Year season called Tet. (At least I think they’re mums! 😉 ) In just a few minutes from when this shot is taken, everyone becomes very jovial as the dragons appear for their dance in the market as a boy bangs his drum to a quick beat.

dragon.PNG