|Vietnamese Tét New Year —Chúc Mú'ng Nám Mó'i|
For about 3,000 years, China influenced and controlled Vietnam. The country enjoyed 900 years of independence until the French colonized the region. From the mid-19th century until the mid-1950s, Vietnam was part of French Indochina along with Cambodia and Laos. In 1954, the Communist forces of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh defeated the French, and Vietnam regained its independence.
Freedom did not last long. The Geneva Accord split the country into a Communist north and a capitalist south. Conflict rapidly ensued as U.S. aid to South Vietnam increased and then escalated. From March 1965, when American troops landed in South Vietnam, until the fall of Saigon in 1975, violent conflict ripped apart the country. Vietnam was reunited with Hanoi as the capital of that devastated land, which continued to struggle for another 25 years. Since 2000, a series of economic advances have opened up Vietnam to the rest of the world.
The Vietnamese, like many other ethnic groups, follow a lunar calendar. This means that Tét, which occurs in the 12th moon month and lasts for three days, takes place sometime between the last 10 days of January and the middle of February on the western calendar.
The Vietnamese-American Community in Iowa, VACI, is one of the primary organizers of the annual Iowa Tét celebration. Formed in Des Moines in 2004 to unite Iowa’s Vietnamese people, the organization wants to keep alive their ancient traditions. Working with the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple, South Vietnamese Veteran Association and a host of other organizations, the VACI brings the community comes together each year to welcome in the New Year. TOP
Múa Lân: Dragon Dance
Text by Vinh Nguyen & Riki Saltzman. Photos by Riki Saltzman. Tet photo c1982 courtesy of Vinh Nguyen. Audio Provided by Vinh Nguyen.