Tet, My New Year This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 26, 2010
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Sometime in January or February each year I celebrate one of my favorite holidays. The sparkling gold and vibrant red packets of luck always bring smiles in my family. Chinese New Year, as most people know it, is not only a way to spread joy for the New Year but is also a loved tradition.

Chinese New Year, known to my family as Tet, is when our true new year begins. January 1st passes like any other day for my family. But when Tet arrives, it brings with it many events and chores. My family buys fruit and incense for my ancestors; we clean the house and offer food and drink to the spirits for good luck. We decorate based on the animal of the year. Last year we decorated with many forms of the ox and numerous yellow flowers. Beginning February 14, this is the year of the tiger. After these few days of celebration, I finally feel like the year has started fresh.

During this period, when friends walk into my house, heavy incense smoke attacks them. The powerful smell takes time to get used to. When I was younger, I hated it, but now I enjoy it and feel that this holiday is incomplete without the familiar scent. I bow three times for the three levels of the altar and light an incense for all my deceased family members, as well as the other two gods. We pray and wish them happiness wherever they may be.

Families are not the only Chinese people who are busy this time of year. The temple monks prepare food and clean the temple so people can come and celebrate with them. The monks, dressed in yellow-orange togas, greet everyone and wish them the best for the new year. They give younger kids money in lucky red packets. Several boys dance as lions, doing fancy tricks for the large audience. This is one of the events I look forward to most.

Last but not least, my family plays the simple game of Gourd, Crab, Shrimp, Fish. It involves three dice with six pictures depicting a crab, shrimp, fish, chicken, deer, and the gourd. The game is so simple that even toddlers can play. Everyone places their bet on the picture they think will appear on one of the three dice. When the “banker” rolls the die, if that picture appears, you win. This simple game is a fun tradition that everyone can take part in.

The traditions of Tet are ones I hope to share with my kids and keep throughout my life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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