Victoria Johnson / Stuff
The Lunar New Year falls on February 1, heralding the Year of the Tiger.
Many have heard of the Chinese New Year, but it’s only part of an array of Lunar New Year festivities celebrated by several East and Southeast Asian communities across the country. Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the lunar calendar and this year it falls on February 1.
Tết Nguyên Đán, is the Lunar New Year celebration for the Vietnamese, and the Vietnamese community in New Zealand managed to organize a big festive party just hours before the red decorations were set up on Sunday at midnight.
One hundred and ninety people attended the Tết event held in Wellington last Sunday which involved singing contests, folk games, traditional music and food.
Hours before the red backdrops were set up, the Vietnamese community in New Zealand held a lively Lunar New Year celebration.
Victor Diem is the Vice President of the Vietnamese Community of New Zealand, a volunteer group in Wellington that helps organize New Years and Full Moon celebrations and helps Vietnamese migrants adjust to life in New Zealand. -Zealand.
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Diem said Lunar New Year, a national holiday in Vietnam, has traditionally been a time of relaxation and a time when people try to return home to Vietnam.
Covid-19 has made this much more difficult for the more than 10,000 Vietnamese across the country, but “Vietnamese are very adaptable and apart from [not being able to go home]I don’t think it affects us that much,” Diem said.
Being away from Vietnam meant that some traditions were inaccessible, but “people adapt and people adapt”. [celebrate] Lunar New Year,” he said. For example, cherry blossoms bloom in Vietnam during the New Year, but in New Zealand many families use artificial cherry blossoms instead.
The Lunar New Year was usually a time for older and younger generations to mingle and for young people with busy lives to see their older relatives, Diem said.
For the Tết celebration, guests would bring red foods such as watermelon to symbolize the good fortune of the year, and bánh chưng, a sticky rice cake containing mung bean and pork belly, while enjoying the occasion to dress up in traditional Vietnamese áo dài. .
“We often wear a lot of red clothes and red flowers as decorations because red in our tradition is considered lucky,” Diem said.
“This is an occasion where families with children born in New Zealand [can] to be part of our celebration” and for them to have the opportunity to wear áo dài “is something they can be proud of and remember as their heritage.”
In Wellington, children and adults danced and sang in karaoke between bubbles and smoke machines, until the smoke detector went off, forcing guests to evacuate to the fire department.
Despite this, Diem said the event was “a lot of fun” and guests quickly got back into the party once they were allowed inside.
Diem’s biggest wish for the New Year is that “people will have a little more freedom to travel and get back to normal life with Covid; I don’t think we can say without Covid.
Upcoming Lunar New Year Events
Auckland Lantern Festival – online – from February 1st
Wellington Lunar New Year Festival – multiple locations and online – February 1-12
Under red settings, events are limited to 100 people with physical distancing. Wearing a mask and passes for vaccines are mandatory for anyone over 12 years old. Reservations may be required.