Vietnamese community celebrates New Year

Lindsey Reed

Drums, fireworks and other festive sounds echoed from Lampkin Park last Saturday as the Bowling Green community came together to celebrate the Vietnamese New Year.

Vietnamese celebrate the New Year , Tet, on the first day of the lunar new year. The day falls on a different date between January and February each year.

The Vietnamese community in Bowling Green holds the celebration each year to help the younger generation learn about their country’s traditions, said Dunn Nguyen of Bowling Green.

“We care about our children,” he said. “If we don’t keep the tradition, they’ll know nothing.”

Over 100 people came to share the traditions of a country located halfway around the globe.

An urn was placed atop an altar on the stage, while a tree with yellow blossoms stood beside the stage. Both items symbolized the customs associated with Tet.

The urn symbolizes the remembering of ancestors.

“This is a time to remember our ancestors and our friends’ ancestors, as well as those who might have died for us, like national heroes,” Nguyen said.

The tree with yellow blossoms is known as the Bong Mai, or “Lucky Flowers.” It only blossoms during Tet and can be compared to the beauty of a lady’s gentleness, he said.

The celebration offered a break from classes for two Western students originally from Vietnam.

Bowling Green freshman Co Le said he enjoyed the celebration, but said he was a bit homesick.

“I miss Vietnam at this time of the year,” he said. “There is not a lot of Vietnamese here.”

Tet is as big of a celebration as Christmas, Le said. The big difference between the two holidays is that Americans tend to stay home with their families during Christmas, while all the people come together for Tet, he said.

Bowling Green freshman Hieu Nguyen said Tet is a celebration of the year to come.

“This is a time when families goes back to their homeland, and everyone forgets all the misfortunes of the past and moves forward,” he said.

Many of the rituals associated with Tet involve letting go of the past and hoping for good luck in the future.

The celebration began with the explosion of fireworks, which symbolized scaring away all negativity and welcoming goodness.

As the fireworks went off, children ran outside while sounds of the drums heightened the emotion of the scene.

Later in the ceremony the so-called “King of the Kitchen” added humor as he reported what all had been going on in the community over the past year.

Le and Nguyen were full of excitement as they performed a lion dance and wore a lion headdress. Le said that the lion dance was a symbol for good luck in the coming year.

“It is fun; this is a time to come and meet each other,” Le said.

Throughout the night, the Vietnamese community came together– taking pictures, watching different live acts and eating traditional Vietnamese food.

Despite being thousands of miles apart, those celebrating in Vietnam and those in Bowling Green shared one thing in common that night — community.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]