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Tet or Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in Viet Nam. It is a big family time. At home, the extended family gets together to express gratitude and best wishes to greet the new year of the moon.

Far from home, we made it a big night to cheer Tet at Mizzou. The turnout was amazing: over 100 participants including our distinguished guests – the Deans, Directors and Professors at Mizzou; our friends from Washington University, Truman State University, Webster University and other universities in Missouri; local overseas Vietnamese friends; and current Mizzou students.

2010 - 2011 VSA President Hoa Hoang introducing Vietnamese Tet traditions

The foremost foods in Tet are Banh Chung (or Banh Tet in southern Viet Nam) - the sticky square rice cake honoring the earth; and Banh Day - the round rice cake honoring the sky.

Tet also comes with Cau Doi – parallel matching sentences. The sentence on the left in the picture below says about the belief of a worthy life; the sentence on the right about the promises of the new spring. And the two sentences rhyme. In the middle, it says: Year of the Cat 2011 and Happy New Year (Chuc Mung Nam Moi).

Great songs were performed. One of which drew big emotion: “The First Spring” by the famous Vietnamese composer Van Cao, performed by the lady choir. It was about the first spring of 1976, the first spring after the war in Vietnam. It’s about love, hope and the promises of the future in peace.

Dressed in cowboy custom, Dr. Willi Meyers contributed the folk song “Red River Valley”, which he humorously dubbed “Red River Delta”, meaning Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta.

A variety of Vietnamese traditional foods were served in the potluck form. From across Viet Nam, students brought foods of their own regions.

Fun games played! Ellie Nguyen and Dat Cao guided the games “Diploma Protection” and Baloon Hitting.

After the formal evening ended, folks stay on to demonstrate Karaoke talents until 11:30pm.

Thanks so much to all who made the event a success: organizing, greeting, singing, gaming, cooking, cleaning, coming from a great distance and participating :-)

Best wishes on the Lunar New Year from Columbia-Missouri. We wish you and your family have wonderful health, brave heart and happiness.

(by Hien Nguyen)