The Vietnamese community in the northwestern U.S. is excited to welcome the Lunar New Year celebrations which include making traditional Vietnamese dishes for the occasion.
In the cold weather of Washington State, many Vietnamese held banh chung and banh tet cooking activities to welcome Tet - Vietnam’s Lunar New Year festival.
Banh chung and banh tet are traditional Vietnamese rice cakes most commonly found during Tet and one of the most important offerings when praying.
These dishes are made from glutinous rice, mung beans, pork, and other ingredients.
Making banh chung and banh tet is a complex and time-consuming task but it is one of the most significant traditional activities during Tet, even in Vietnam, so it is widely enjoyed.
The elderly volunteered to make the necessary preparations for the activity, including cooking rice and pork, washing the leaves used to wrap the cakes, and preparing mung beans.
|Many elderly participate in the activity. Photo: Cuong Khong / Tuoi Tre|
Some families contributed such ingredients as meat and rice to make thousands of these cakes for the Vietnamese community in northwestern America.
One of the elderly volunteers, Hanh Khong, came to help very early in the morning, as he confessed that homesickness was his main motivation.
It has been over 30 years since the 82-year-old volunteer left Vietnam.
Hanh Khong is not the only senior Vietnamese that enjoys the activities, as for many people of his age this is the only way to alleviate homesickness and an appreciated opportunity to mingle with a vast community of Vietnamese.
For these people, it is not only about cooking but about feeling at home.
At the traditional activities, the participants were free to communicate in Vietnamese, eat Vietnamese family meals, and share traditional dishes with one another as they did when they were still in Vietnam.
In Washington, people of Vietnamese origin are appreciated thanks to their outstanding work ethics, friendliness, and good working skills.
Hence, many companies hold Tet celebrations for their Vietnamese workers as a way to appreciate their traditions and show respect for their Vietnamese staff.
Most significantly, many people have even started calling Tet celebrations “Lunar New Year” instead of “Chinese New Year," following Vietnamese’s dismay.
Other common activities to welcome Tet this year include purchasing contemporary ao dai designs for every family member for $30 per outfit, as well as decorating houses with peach blossoms and other flowers that would bloom during the Lunar New Year to mimic the traditions practiced in Vietnam.
In Vietnam, blooming flowers are one of the most important decorations during Tet.
It is obvious that no matter where Vietnamese are, they would always remember their culture, traditions, and origin.
|Female participants are usually in charge of cleaning the leaves used to wrap the cakes. Photo: Cuong Khong / Tuoi Tre|
|Banh tetare placed in a pot to be cooked. Photo: Cuong Khong / Tuoi Tre|
|Pots used for cooking were already certified by the authorities to guarantee safety. Photo: Cuong Khong / Tuoi Tre|
|After being cooked, banh tet are left to dry before being transported to the markets. Photo: Cuong Khong / Tuoi Tre|