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Vietnamese Preparing for Different Celebration

Our Times / Orange County Communities | COVERING NORTH
COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : GARDEN GROVE

Asian community will mark Tet, the lunar new year, Feb. 5, which is the beginning of 4698, the year of the dragon.

December 31, 1999|CHRIS CEBALLOS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Unfazed by the millennium craze sweeping the rest of Orange County--the country and the world as well--many in the Vietnamese community in Garden Grove will be quietly making preparations for Tet, the lunar new year celebration Feb. 5.

"Well, many Vietnamese people will celebrate on Friday," said Huyen Nguyen. "But I think this is not a Vietnamese tradition.

"I think it's not really important to the Vietnamese in general. Because as a longtime tradition, we always celebrate the first day of the lunar new year."

Nguyen is a volunteer with the Vietnamese Community of Southern California, a nonprofit social service organization, that is coordinating the Garden Grove Tet celebration this year.

"It's the usual celebration for the Vietnamese, and there's no connection at all to the year 2000," Nguyen said.

And it's not just for the Vietnamese. The lunar new year is considered the most significant holiday of the year for all Asian cultures.

It will be the beginning of the year 4698 of the Chinese calendar, the year of the dragon, one of 12 animal symbols that rule each calendar year.

Khal Luu, president of the Assn. of Vietnamese Educators, isn't buying into the millennium doom surrounding Y2K.

"We have a good opinion of the dragon," Luu said. "It is the symbol of the good king, not like the opinion of the Westerners that the dragon is an evil beast. We see it as a good sign for the people."

Luu agrees that while some will recognize tonight's celebration--he will be attending a dinner celebration in Westminster--most Vietnamese are waiting for Tet to really celebrate the new year.

Except for the kids, that is, the high school- and college-age Vietnamese youth.

"They have their own celebration," Luu said. "They gather together and dance and sing. I think they celebrate the new year in their own way. You know that's how it is with the young people. They adapt their life to the new land and they celebrate both new years."

Chris Ceballos can be reached at (714) 966-5440

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