New Year’s


During Tết, Crystal Nguyen (11) and her family decorate their home with lanterns made out of red envelopes.

Arshad Mohammad, Staff Writer

There are many different celebrations for the New Year all over the world, among them is the Vietnamese celebration, Tết. Tết is a week-long celebration that marks the arrival of Spring and will take place on Jan. 25 this year. During the week, it is important to pay respects to ancestors, visit family and friends, pray at temples, and celebrate with firecrackers to make as much noise as possible at midnight. 

Although there are many common traditions followed by a majority of the Vietnamese population, some families will add their own traditions into the mix. For Crystal Nguyen (11), after praying at her family’s alter, she and her family burn paper representing a variety of items in a large pot at night. 

“We’ll have a pot that we’ll burn fake money, fake clothes, anything in. We’re really burning just paper though; actual clothing and other things get donated,” says Crystal. 

Tết is almost like a large party with her extended family. They celebrate with a feast of Vietnamese food and alcohol.

“In Vietnam, the legal age for drinking is 18, but adults will still allow [younger] kids to drink, kids are actually encouraged to drink, so l get to drink too but I’ve only drank beer,” explains Crystal. 

One of her favorite traditions is cooking traditional Vietnamese food wrapped in banana leaves like Bánh chưng and soy or sweet rice with her family. 

“There was this one time when my mom was cooking this big pie and she told me not to take it out because I would drop it,” recalls Crystal “ but when she took it out she dropped it.” 

Tết has a huge influence on her life and has created some memorable moments for her. For instance, one of her favorite memories involved visiting a popular temple, Bai Dinh Pagoda, in Vietnam. Bai Dinh Pagoda sits at the top of a mountain, which people can visit by climbing a long flight of stairs. 

“The total walk took about four hours,” Crystal describes “and was very exhausting. My grandparents powered through, but my dad got tired and had to stop halfway. When we got to the temple it was beautiful and very gold, it’s a very peaceful area with only a few people visiting at a time.”

The hallways of the temple are lined with golden statues of monks. It is a tradition for visitors to rub the bellies, hands, and foreheads of the statues for wisdom and good fortune to rub onto them. 

Vietnam’s celebrations are grand and festive, whereas celebrations that take place in San Jose are generally of a smaller scale and take place for only a small period of time. 

“We usually only go to mini temples or parades in San Jose for Tết. I miss going to the temples in Vietnam,” says Crystal “ it was a really cool experience and I don’t get to see anything close to them here.”