By Emily Hostetler
and Sarah Jane Sheehan
Red and yellow filled the Benes Room at 5 p.m. on February 9 for the annual Vietnamese Student Association’s Lunar New Year event.
To many Vietnamese students at Ohio Wesleyan, the Lunar New Year is just as important as Christmas is to some American students.
On Feb. 9, the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) gathered students and teachers to celebrate the holiday with music, food and performances.
Freshman Khan Quoc Le, VSA president, said the Lunar New Year celebration is a time for the club’s members to get together.
“Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday in Vietnam,” he said. “It’s when people gather together with friends and family to have fun.”
Tet Nguyen Dan, or Tet, is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Lunar Calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar—it is separated into 12 months with 30 days per month, according to Vietnam Online.
VSA integrated education into their event by opening the celebration with a documentary about Tet in Vietnam.
Dancing and singing performances by VSA members followed the film—there was a hip-hop dance choreographed by two members of the club that incorporated other students.
Two more performances came after the dance. One song was performed by Freshman Taji Wright sang a song in English and sophomore Thanh Vo joined her in Vietnamese. Finally, the whole club performed a traditional Vietnamese song.
During the rest of the event, the club set up a microphone for open performances. Many attendees performed songs, while one performed poetry.
“It is VSA tradition to organize Lunar New Year as a campus involvement event, and we wish to share a part of our culture to OWU,” Quoc Le said.
According to junior Ha Le, VSA members worked all Friday night and Saturday preparing food.
“All the food cooked for the event is traditional Vietnamese food: sticky rice, braised pork, spring roll and egg roll, and they all appear in traditional Lunar New Year celebration,” Quoc Le said.
Sophomore Mary Ann Lee said she had never been to the Lunar New Year celebration on campus before, but enjoyed the event.
“I really like the Vietnamese food,” she said. “The performances were really cool, especially how they sang in Vietnamese.”
Senior Alan Massouh said he wanted to make sure he got a chance to come to the event before he graduated.
“It was recommended to me by my South Korean friend,” he said. “It’s an excellent cultural experience all around.”
The Benes rooms were decorated in red and yellow, two colors that represent good fortune in Vietnamese culture, according to Vietnam Online.
It is also traditional to hand out gifts to friends and family members to ensure good fate for the rest of the year.
“We also handed out red envelope(s) at reception, which is an activity adapted from Vietnamese tradition of handing out lucky money in red envelope(s),” Quoc Lee said.
According to the Lunar Calendar and Vietnamese culture, 2013 represents the year of the snake—a year of love, peace and prosperity for many.
“This is a time of celebration at the end of the year,” Le said. “We always wish for luck, prosperity, health, success and love.”
Le also said her family speaks with a monk who predicts what the year may hold for their family.
“It’s something very important to us and we just want to share a part of our culture,” Le said. “I used to miss not being home for it, but you get used to it.”
Nguyen said VSA will be doing events to promote awareness of Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used in the Vietnam War, in the spring.