Local Vietnamese community shares culture during Tet celebration.
BY ANGIE HAFLICH
With Nguyen Dan, more commonly known as Tet, the celebration of the New Year based on the lunar calendar, falling on Sunday, Garden City's Vietnamese community celebrated by honoring Vietnamese ancestors, serving Vietnamese food, performing the traditional dragon dance and by giving "lucky money" to children.
Mitch Young, emcee of the event, held at the 4-H building of the Finney County Fairgrounds, is also vice president of the Vietnamese Community of Garden City and said that the main purpose in holding the event is to pass on traditional customs to Vietnamese children and to share the culture with the community.
"We want to share our tradition with the American guests while we are here, and we want to be a part of the community, and we want to show our tradition to make the culture richer. We also want to be a part of giving back to what the American people have given to us," Young said.
Young said that Tet is based on the lunar New Year and that 2013 is the year of the snake.
During the ceremony, Young recognized this year's guests of honor: Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue, City Manager Matt Allen, City of Garden City Human Resources Manager Michelle Stegman, Vice Mayor Dan Fankhauser, Judge Peter Ramirez, Director of the Garden City Recreation Commission John Washington, and Finney County United Way Executive Director Consuelo Sandoval.
Fankhauser, Allen and Stegman also said a few words at the event.
"We value your culture and the contributions you have made to this community. We appreciate your effort to recognize your traditions," Fankhauser said. "The city recently began to use a community logo that was designed to celebrate our diversity. The racial and ethnic diversity of Garden City's population is shown through the different sizes and colors of the logo's leaves. According to the designers of the logo, these leaves overlap and build upon each other to show unity, collaboration, coming together in a single point on the horizon, just like people and families all over the world are drawn together in Garden City."
Allen said that for him, the Tet celebration has evolved into a family event.
Stegman then spoke, beginning by saying. 'hello to all,' in Vietnamese.
"Today, you begin the celebration of the coming lunar year, the year of the snake, Tet Nguyen Dan. It is the occasion to express respect and remembrance for your ancestors, as well as welcoming the New Year with your family members and the Vietnamese community. By celebrating this holiday, your community preserves and promotes your heritage," Stegman said, ending her speech by saying Happy New Year in Vietnamese.
Elders burned incense out of respect for ancestors, and the children received their 'lucky money.'
"Every year, for New Year's, the elders will give the youngers 'lucky money' for them to spend, buy new clothes, and traditionally the children have to come up to the parents or the elders and wish them good luck, wish them longevity and happiness. In return, they give out the red envelope with lucky money," Young said.
The celebration also include a dragon dance, in which one dancer acts as the head and one acts as the tail of the dragon. Accompanied by a large drum and cymbal, the dragon "dances" to the beat as people try to "feed" the mouth of the dragon.
"Pretty much the main event is the dragon dance, because without the dragon, Tet would have no meaning because the dragons bring luck and bring peace to the people," Young said.
Traditional Vietnamese food consisting of fried rice, egg rolls and noodles was served during the event.