Vietnamese celebrate upcoming year

With loud gongs resonating, Hui’s Lucky Lion Dance Team began the lion/dragon dance Saturday to usher out the old and welcome the new in honor of the upcoming Vietnamese New Year.

Seated under vibrant red lights that glowed throughout Coffman Union’s Great Hall, approximately 500 people attended the Vietnamese Student Association’s largest event of the year.

“New Year’s in Vietnam is bigger than Christmas or any other holiday,” said Hanna Nguyen, the association’s vice president.

“It’s hard to get across how big it is in the Vietnamese culture. New Year’s here isn’t as big as it is in Vietnam, so we are trying to create the same feeling.”

“Tet,” also known as the Vietnamese New Year, begins Feb. 9 and is celebrated for three days. According to the

Vietnamese zodiac, 2005 is the “year of the rooster.”

Organizers said months of planning dances, songs and shows helped remind attendees about the roots of their cultural pride and traditions.

Many of the women in attendance wore “ao di,” colorful and traditional Vietnamese dresses.

The music and array of performances in the auditorium brought wide smiles and laughter during several moments of the evening.

The event also tried to teach others about the meaning behind Vietnamese traditions, organizers said.

“By getting together, we are trying to unify our culture and retain it, since we’re not in our own country,” said association spokeswoman Anna Nguyen.

The color red, which was seen everywhere throughout the night, represents happiness and brightness, Hanna Nguyen said. She said the loud noises of gongs and firecrackers are a tradition meant to scare away evil spirits and anything bad before the new year arrives.

A display at the event showed the impact New Year’s Day can have on the upcoming year.

To earn good luck, everything and everyone you are in touch with on New Year’s Day should symbolize good fortune, according to the display.

The display showed that children should not fight or cry and people should pay debts and resolve conflicts before the new year. They get new clothes, paint and clean the house in preparation for it.

Group member Thuy Nguyen and other members took donations for the Asia tsunami victims and sold cultural items, with all proceeds going to the Catalyst Foundation, an organization for Vietnamese orphans.

Vietnamese cultural toys, clothes and food were on display. Also on display was “hoa mai,” a yellow blossom that represents spring. The flower represents the blooming of luck and happiness, Hanna Nguyen said.

“You can’t have New Year’s without this flower,” she said. “Every house has this flower on New Year’s.”

Group member ThuyHang Vu said the event was great compared with last year’s.

“We had this event, because we all want to get together on the most important day of the year and also see everyone’s talents,” she said.

The Vietnamese Student Association is also planning to have a festival Feb. 8, the day before the Vietnamese New Year.