Every Vietnamese New Year, or Tet, my family practices some traditions that make the celebration unique and special to me. The night before the new year my dad sets up food, candles, and flowers around a shrine like set up to honor our ancestors. A picture of his grandparents and his father are the center of the shrine. I find this extra special because my grandfather passed away before I was born, so this is my only connection and memory of him. My dad spends the day cleaning the house and getting the shrine ready in various rooms of the house. I never truly understood the importance of placement of the shrines and candles, but he says that they all are in a certain room or space for a reason. My dad takes me and my sister around each of the set ups and we have a silent prayer in our heads. The food left out for our ancestors and Buddha is all vegetarian because he was vegetarian. The following day on the new year my parents say that we cannot clean at all, and we must celebrate. We cannot clean on the new year because it can clean away the good luck. But my dad has also semi-joked that if I clean on the New Year, I will clean every day of the year.
I like celebrating Vietnamese New Year because it is one of the only times that I celebrate my family’s history, heritage, and tradition. I enjoy seeing my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. While my family is not very religious or traditional, I am glad that my parents still try to teach and share their Vietnamese culture and tradition with me and my sister. The only things that I know about my family’s traditions are the things that my parents shared with me growing up. There is a language barrier between me and my grandparents, so my parents have been the main people to share with me their traditions. Practicing parts of the Vietnamese culture and celebrating the new year holds a special place in my heart, and the older that I get the more that I appreciate it.