The entire month of May, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, The MIL Corporation will be highlighting our AA&PI Corporate Service Center staff. This week, we sat down with Christina Tran. Christina is a Financial Planning and Analysis Manager. Learn more about Tet and Lunar New Year, below.

What is your favorite cultural tradition?

My favorite cultural tradition would be celebrating Lunar New Year, also known as Tet. This is celebrated among the Chinese and Vietnamese communities between late January or early February, depending on the lunar calendar. It’s the biggest and most important holiday in the Chinese and Vietnamese culture, almost like New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all rolled into one.  Typically it’s a week-long affair, where you’re not supposed to work and make every effort to gather with friends and family to indulge in feasting on traditional Tet foods, a little bit of drinking, playing games, and participate in other social activities. The custom has become sacred and secular and, therefore, no matter where you are or whatever the circumstances are, family members find ways to meet their loved ones to gather.

Growing up, my favorite part of the tradition was receiving special fancy red envelopes that were filled with crisp new bills from the adults. The red envelopes symbolized good wishes and luck for the new year ahead. A week before Tet, advanced preparations are done to get rid of all bad luck associated with the previous year. Everyone is in a rush to get their haircut, get their homes in order, or settle outstanding debts. If you don’t do this before Tet, it’s considered bad luck and not a good start to a New Year. During the week of Tet, there is a laundry list of things you can’t do, such as take out the trash, clean your home, or wash your hair, because doing so the week of Tet symbolizes giving away your good luck. Starting a New Year right involves extra caution on things that might bring about misfortunes. Tet is full of many traditions that I haven’t touched on, but it’s based on history that has evolved over the years to modern celebrations. However, celebrating new beginnings with loved ones will always remain its core tradition.