The Lunar Celebration, which highlights the rebirth or renewal of a year, wraps Christmas, New Year and a reunion into one holiday for the people of Vietnam.
Troy University’s Vietnamese Student Association hosted a lunar celebration on Feb. 6 to commemorate this event.
According to vietnamonline.com, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year Celebration “is an occasion for Vietnamese to express their respect and remembrance for their ancestors as well as welcoming in the New Year with their beloved family members.”
Tra Vu, a sophomore global business major from Hanoi, Vietnam, and the president of the Vietnamese Student Association, said that the planning for this celebration has been in the works for about a month.
“The most difficult part about this process was working with different people because some people have different perspectives about what to include,” Vu said. “We all want to contribute to this event, but we have different ideas.”
“This celebration is like a big family reunion similar to how Christmas is celebrated in America,” Vu said.
Those in attendance included members of the Vietnamese Student Association, Vietnamese Americans from the Troy community, as well as American students who joined together for the event.
“I have a lot of Vietnamese friends who told me about this event,” said Caitlyn Sebastion, a freshman biomedical sciences major from Birmingham. “This really broadens your perspective since you don’t see much of this in America.”
Attendees were welcomed throughout the entirety of the event.
The evening was filled with customary dancing, food and gift exchanging.
The performance began with a traditional Vietnamese dragon dance, then progressed to other dances ranging from traditional to modern and a duet titled “Hoa co mua xuan.”
Vietnamese students prepared and served traditional Vietnamese dishes for the dinner buffet. The food was purchased from three different oriental markets to ensure authenticity.
“I really love the food we feature,” Vu said. “We really spend a lot of money and time and this is a once-a-year opportunity for us to showcase our culture to other students.”
According to Vu, the combination of both Northern and Southern Vietnam cooking styles was a focal point for the food served at the event.
Nguyen Nguyen, a freshman communication major from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, was a host at the event who introduced guest speakers, dancers and singers during the event.
“I love being a host and hosting events. I like to create something fun,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen and others were able to celebrate the occasion even though they cannot spend it with their families in Vietnam.
“It was great to see how happy the Vietnamese students are,” Nguyen said. “They get to eat their traditional food again and see everyone come together.”
Hoang Do, a freshman economics major from Hanoi, Vietnam, said he enjoyed the performances.
“I miss being back home, but I like the peace of Troy,” Hoang said.
“For our Vietnamese students, we celebrate here with our second family at Troy because we are thousands of miles away from our families in Vietnam,” Vu said. “It gives us a sense of belonging.”
Guest speakers included: Darlene Schmurr-Stewart, dean of international student services; Duc Tran, a senior accounting major from Hanoi, Vietnam; and Truong Vu, a Troy graduate student studying international management from Haiphong City, Vietnam. The Vietnamese Student Association plans to host several more gatherings in the future, including a showcase with the International Student Cultural Organization in March.
Vu hopes that in the future the event can be expanded to include more people.
“Next year and in years to come, we would like to host the event in Trojan Ballrooms because of how quickly tickets sold out this year,” Vu said.
“I think anyone who has traveled alone before knows how difficult it can be to find yourself in a new culture without your normal support system, especially during the holidays,” Morgan Jackson, Troy’s international sites coordinator, said.
“So events like the Lunar New Year Festival are wonderful opportunities to remind students that not only do they have a strong community of Vietnamese students to celebrate with, they also have a campus full of faculty, staff, and students that care about them and want to share in their culture.”
“I think the celebration is about hope for the future and appreciation for the tradition and history behind us,” Jackson said. “It’s really a unique time to celebrate this for the students, I think, because they’re preparing for their future, in terms of academics and careers, while thinking about their family and friends at home.”
“I’m sure it’s a very bittersweet time for them but something they still feel very strongly about.”