The Lunar New Year is approaching and here in southern California, it’s a pretty big deal. This year, it starts on Saturday, January 28. It’s also known as Chinese New Year but being Vietnamese, I prefer to call it Lunar New Year in general, as the Vietnamese also celebrate it but refer to it as Tet. Our family usually hosts a large party and pass out red envelopes with money to the younger kids, and there is lots of eating involved.
There is a very large Vietnamese community in Southern California and the area they tend to live in and shop at is called Little Saigon (cities of Garden Grove and Westminster). The most famous shopping center in the area is the Asian Garden mall. It really is not huge or the best place to shop or eat, but it’s a great place for tourists to visit. Every year at this time of celebration, they have vendors out in the parking lot at night time, past the closing hours of the mall.
I like to go because it’s festive. You can pretend you’re in Vietnam and a bit of it does look like it, with all the lanterns, flowers (orchids are popular), as well as kumquat trees and other exotic fruits, and people wearing their Vietnamese attire or cone hats. As it gets closer to new year, firecrackers will be lighted and dragon dances and a parade goes through the streets.