Vietnamese in Maine celebrate Lunar New Year with traditional festival

Posted Jan. 16, 2012, at 8:37 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 17, 2012, at 6:36 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — More than 300 people from Maine’s Vietnamese community gathered Saturday to usher in the Vietnamese Lunar New Year with music, food and fashion. The festival of Tet Nguyen Dan marks the arrival of spring, according to the Asian lunar calendar. The celebration included lion and dragon dancers and was highlighted by the popular California-based singers Don Ho and Huong Thuy.

The Lunar New Year’s holiday is the most important festival of the year for the Vietnamese. It has been called the equivalent of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Easter all rolled into one. The celebration often last several days. Customs include cleaning the house to get rid of bad fortunes, purchasing new clothes for the holiday, and making offers to honor the souls of ancestors. Children love it because they receive red envelopes containing “lucky money” from their elders.

2012 is the Year of the Dragon. The mythical creature is the most revered of all the Vietnamese zodiac signs. It is a symbol strength and vitality that they believe will bring a year full of good fortune.

The event, which was held at the Gold Room, was hosted by the all-volunteer Vietnamese-American Association of Maine.