This is a conversation with my friend, identified as C, about Vietnamese New Year. I am identified as IC in this transcription.
IC: When is vietnamese new year? What is it called—is there a vietnamese name for it?
C: It’s called Tết and takes place on the first day of the first month of the lunar year, so usually late Jan or early February
IC: What kind of foods do you eat?
C: My family doesn’t celebrate super traditionally. We usually eat potluck style with a mix of foods. Someone usually will bring a pig, and there’s Gỏi cuốn, which is spring roll with peanut sauce. Also, there’s Chả giò, which is basically an egg roll, Bánh cuốn, rice flour with meat and Chả lụa, which is pork sausage. Most of them are eaten with Nước mam, a diluted fish sauce. We usually have that with a mix of maybe duck, vegetables like green beans or Brussel sprouts or a casserole, sometimes potatoes, a fried rice dish, fried chicken wings.
IC: Is there a reason for eating certain foods?
C: No, not that I know of. There might be but my family isn’t super traditional so I’m not sure.
IC: Are there any activities that you do?
C: Yeah, the older people give the red envelopes with money to younger ones. We call it lì xì. I think there are also other activities that people traditionally do, but we don’t do them so I’m not sure.
IC: That’s cool, Korea has a similar tradition where elders give money to younger ones.
C: Yeah, it’s probably a similar tradition in Asian cultures.
IC: Are there traditional Vietnamese clothes that you wear?
C: My grandma wears the Vietnamese dress called áo dài and people like the colour red, which represents good luck.
My informant is a 22-year-old half-Vietnamese and half-American who was my roommate last year. Although she doesn’t celebrate it very traditionally as she mentioned, she agreed to answer a few questions when I mentioned this project and asked her about it.
This was collected over a casual conversation on FaceTime, as I couldn’t meet with her in person since she went back home to the Bay Area amidst the current pandemic situation.
I didn’t know anything about Vietnamese New Year and hearing about the foods they eat and traditional clothing they wear was interesting to hear. I found the similarity of the money envelope in Korean New Year celebration fascinating. It shows that while traditions are different around the world, some of them have similar roots.