Jasmine Nguyen, Senior Editor, receiving red envelopes from her grandparents.
By Jasmine Nguyen, Senior Editor, and Daniel Tom, Contributing Writer
The Year of the Rat has passed by, and it has not been a very lucky one, at least for these two Bulletin writers. Various holidays have passed, like Easter, Halloween, and even Christmas. But Covid-19 has finally affected Lunar New Year and it does not seem to be changing now that it’s the Year of the Ox. The holiday which is celebrated by various Asian countries, like China, Japan, Vietnam, and many more, is focused on family and embracing traditions but the usually festive holiday has been scaled down drastically due to the pandemic.
Tết or Lunar New Years, has always been my favorite holiday. It was a mixture of my favorite things: seeing family, eating good, and most importantly, getting money. It’s one of the holidays that I always enjoyed celebrating and sharing my culture through, also gloating about the red envelopes filled with cash was always fun.
But like most events in the past 11 months, this year, Tết was different. There were no big parties with extended family, no trips to Little Saigon to see lion dancers, and no sitting through hours and hours of uncles gambling and drinking before I could go home. It didn’t really feel like Tết and I was disappointed at the lack of festivities.
Instead, my aunts and uncles all met up at my grandparents’ home to receive red envelopes. Rather than all filing into the house, we had to sit in plastic chairs while my great grandfather sat in the middle at a safe distance and passed out the lucky money. There were no long speeches from my grandfather, bad jokes from my uncles, or awkward small talk with my second cousins. It took about 15 minutes altogether.
But I think the heart of what makes Tết my favorite holiday still remains. I got to see my family, (even if it was six feet apart), coo over my baby cousins, and my grandmother still made sure to pack food for everyone to bring home. While it was definitely a more subdued version of the holiday, it only makes me more eager at the hope of attending Tết again next year.
It’s one of the holidays that I always enjoyed celebrating and sharing my culture through…Jasmine Nguyen
A lot has changed in the last year. Gone are the big celebrations, sitting around the table with your family and friends sharing stories while feasting on chow fun, Mongolian beef, and Peking duck. In previous years, when I wasn’t working, My family and I typically went to a traditional Chinese restaurant where we sat together, talking amongst ourselves and enjoying each other’s company. All of this occurred while bowls of rice, tea, and countless other food dishes were passed around the table. Alas, things have changed.
Instead, under the current circumstances, a traditional Chinese New Year in the Tom household was replaced by Panda Express takeout and red envelope exchanges via Venmo.
Like many big holiday celebrations, COVID-19 has changed how we live our lives. Not doing the traditional family meal and exchanging red envelopes hand in hand was an eerie sight. But, still being able to celebrate even in the smallest ways with those that mean the most is more than sentimental.