Chúc mừng năm mới!

i’m soo glad i didn’t miss new year yet!  Chúc mừng năm mới everyone! happy new year!  Did you know it’s the year of the Cat?  In fact i didn’t know the Rabbit exist until I arrived in the US.  It turns out, the Cat only exists on the Vietnamese calendar (all other 11 animals are the same as everywhere else in the world, but we swap Rabbit for Cat). 

What do i remember most from Tết celebration?  The all night long TV programs (the only time of the year with overnight TV) of rước ông Táo về trời (will sort out translation at some point…) followed by an all day TV program with happy music of unison and joys the next couple of days.  Also, the week before that, many families get together to make bánh chưng, the most traditional food for new year. It’s a very elaborate process which I have the privilege of observing only once. Over the 30th night, it’s pitch dark (absolute new moon, tonight!), and you can hear people talking at the open fire.  The sound of sparks from the coal is mixed in with fire crackers everywhere.  Here’s the a whole blog with lots and lots of pictures of how it’s done.   Like many hand-made things, it’s the effort, the feeling you put into making the cake which makes it so warm and special.  That’s what I value the most: the effort one puts in to make something that has deep meaning and connection.  That blog starts with đồ chua, or pickle radish to eat with bánh chưng, then proceeds to buying the leaves + strings, washing leaves, boiling mung beans, soaking sticky rice, and finally arriving at wrapping the cake itself.  Then you toss it in this big metal cylinder and cook it overnight.  Someone always has to keep an eye on it to keep the water at the right level.  Finally, you fish it out, press it so all water is squeezed out.  On mùng một tết (new year day), everyone wakes up after the late night party and anxiously wait for a person-with-lots-of-luck sign to come bless your home.  Then all doors are open, everyone come, each with 1 bánh chưng in hand to wish you a happy year with great health and wealth.  All the children line up to wish the guests the same thing and receive red envelope with money in return.  Since there were no refrigerator / electricity when I grew up, bánh chưng goes bad quickly, within the next few days.  So then the next step is to fry it and eat it for the next week.  Even now, I can’t stand the smell of fry bánh chưng because of the experience.  However, I’d eat fresh ones ANY TIME ANY DAY.  Am promised a fresh one from friend of younger sister… can’t wait  .  The rest of the week, you do nothing but sit at the front of your house, eat hạt dưa (watermelon seeds) and cover your floor in a sea of red (red for luck & wealth).

i in so good spirit now :-).  only a bit bumped that am not at home this year, or not able to join the queer Viet group to participate in the new year parade in Santa Ana this year (you might not know that last year, we faced lots of protest and threats from the homophobic catholic vietnamese that we even had secret service marching with us for protection).  Last year i also get to wear the most fancy amazing piece of cloth as one of the “brides” in the parade, was totally hogging the camera :-D. the parade was super duper fun.  If you’re in Los Angeles this year, do consider coming out to enjoy the new year with us on Bolsa Ave.

Lastly, a new year song to promote unison, peace, and love (how cool, they sing a song in 2nd part that i always like but didn’t know the title)


About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

9 Responses to Chúc mừng năm mới!

  1. Eyesometric says:

    Van Su Nhu Y, thả diều.

    • thả diều says:

      thank you Eyes! Are the asians in UK celebrating? I can tell you it must be quite exciting now in that part of Asia. Actually I haven’t searched yet who also celebrating this new year besides us Vietnamese, the Chinese, and Filipinos. if you can get your hand on 1 slice of the bánh chưng, give it a try, fantastic taste!

      • Eyesometric says:

        Unfortunately I live in a part of UK which, although very beautiful, is not ethnically diverse so I was not aware of the subject until I read your post. There were articles in the national news and I see lots of celebrations in the major cities but there is no chance of me getting hold of a slce of that delicious sounding delicacy 😦

  2. Tell me again, why is it that we have two different calendars? The new year that everybody calls the “Chinese New Year” (which is, now I know, also Vietnamese & Filipino) is also one spin around the block as the Western one, but it has a different beginning and ending somehow.

    Well I can tell you, as a Tiger who just had her year, I don’t like this Rabbit/Cat business one bit.

    • thả diều says:

      “I don’t like this Rabbit/Cat business one bit.”
      But you should, it’s my year 😉
      just got back from my niiice dance class, apparently one does remember quite a bit after 7 years! was gonna research a bit on this calendar business, but just got a call a very very good friend from Berlin is here! we’re gonna have our usual midnight coffee. will get back to you about the calendar business when i have time. but remember, cats are your friends 😉

      • Eyesometric says:

        Apparently I’m a pig. Is it my year soon?

      • thả diều says:

        oh, that’s a very good sign Eyes, many vietnamese would want you to come bless their homes on New Year Day! (although I have to verify, you have to be born NOT during the slaughter hours :-D) That was 4 years ago, so you’ll have to wait another 8 years to have another pig year. Here you can read about your personality ;-).

  3. Eyesometric says:

    Hey …… I’ve got a personality !

  4. chau says:

    i remember that one year we were maybe in 2,4th grade? when grandpa sent us straight home, with NO red envelope, after I whispered in your ear the deadly wishes which u proudly replayed to him almost immediately after.

    then another year when we were in middle school, u decided to go to church EARLY, to come home unwelcomed, rejected 3 times (?) b/c you’re a cat, which is supposed to bad luck/incompatible for the zodiac animal of that year.

    loovely memories 😉

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