By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — The Vietnamese Catholic community celebrated the Lunar New Year on Feb. 14 with Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral but without the traditional festivities afterwards.
Martin Ngo of the Vietnamese community said the official Lunar New Year kicked off Feb. 12 worldwide. COVID-19 pandemic restrictions prevented the serving of food, dancing, singing and the dragon dance in the cathedral’s diocesan center.
Also known as Tết or Tết Nguyên Đán, the Lunar New Year commemorates an important festival for the Vietnamese and people in several other countries in eastern Asia, says Ngo. It is a time for Catholics to give thanks to God and to remember their ancestors and share appreciation for family.
“Tết is a celebration of the arrival of spring and an occasion to pay respects to one’s ancestors. It is also a great opportunity for family to come together.” Traditionally family members return to their homeland for a reunion, but the pandemic has limited such reunions this year.
People celebrate Tết Nguyên Đán the first day of the lunar calendar; the date falls between Jan. 19 and Feb. 20 on the western calendar. Festivities traditionally take up to three days in the United States and much longer in Vietnam.
Since the cathedral reopened in late June, about 85% of the Vietnamese Catholics have returned to Mass, Ngo says. The Lunar New Year’s celebration typically draws a large crowd, but the cathedral had overflow options already in place for all Masses.
This Lunar New Year features the ox. “People born in the year of the ox are honest and earnest. They are low key and never look for praise or to be the center of attention. They believe that everyone should do what’s asked of them and to stay within their bounds,” Ngo says. They rarely lose their temper; they think logically and make great leaders.
Traditionally, Scripture readings from the Lunar New Year Mass are available to take home, and that was the case this year. The highlighted verse comes from Matthew 6:33, “But seek first God’s Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well.”