Article and photo by: Stephanie Huynh | firstname.lastname@example.org | Contributor
Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 1 this year and the University of South Alabama’s Vietnamese Student Association (USA VSA) has been working diligently to celebrate and educate on campus.
Lunar New Year, or Tết in Vietnamese, is one of the most important celebrations for different countries in East and Southeast Asia. The new year is based on the lunar calendar, which tracks the cycles of the moon. Since moon cycles vary, so does the date for Lunar New Year. This year is represented by the Tiger, one of twelve Chinese zodiac signs.
To get in the festive spirit of Tết, the VSA prepared a lì xì (pronounced “lee-see”) gram fundraiser. Gifting lì xì, meaning “lucky money,” is a longstanding tradition for the Vietnamese community. Those interested were able to pre-order these grams to send wishes and good fortune to others, or even themselves.
In addition to the lì xì, the VSA sold snow-skin mooncakes. These also hold great cultural significance; mooncakes are a symbol of togetherness.
Similar to the most often celebrated New Year that falls on Jan. 1, one can expect fireworks, good food and a long party with friends and family on Lunar New Year. Luckily, USA VSA plans to deliver just that, except for the fireworks due to safety reasons.
On Feb. 18, the organization will be hosting a Lunar New Year celebration, and they anticipate that it’ll be their biggest event of the year, with food, games, activities and traditional dances in the works.
“I think many good things can come out of having a Tết event on campus,” said USA VSA President Hayley Doan. “For one, it’s a good way to spread awareness about Vietnamese [and Asian] traditions and holidays. So many people have heard of Lunar New Year but have never actually participated in the celebration. It’s something that many Asians celebrate, whether that be in Asia or America, and it’s something that we take pride in.”
According to a demographic breakdown from the 2020-2021 academic year, Asians make up about 4% of students at South Alabama. For any minority group, working towards complete inclusivity can be a task in itself. The University of South Alabama’s Vietnamese Student Association (USA VSA) has been busy revamping their organization after dedicating the past few years to regrowth. This year, they’ve been focused on recruitment, fundraisers, member retention and cultural events.
“Growing up as an Asian American, we never really saw our culture represented, so now we’re giving everyone the opportunity to partake in a Lunar New Year celebration,” said Doan. “We not only want other Asian Americans to join us, but the entire South community as well. [Hosting Tết] is just one way for us to engage everyone who’s interested in learning more about our culture.”
More information about VSA’s event will be released later on their Instagram page and the Daily Digest.