The crowd watches as the dragon dancers prepare to enter the Little Saigon Creative Building on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022, at Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tết) in Little Saigon. Photo by Ronnie Estoque

Last Saturday, local community members gathered at the Little Saigon Creative for an all-day market to celebrate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tết). The event was organized by Friends of Little Sài Gòn, an organization focused on centering Vietnamese culture and advocacy. Valerie Tran serves as the operations director at the organization and was eager to share what Tết means to her.

“My favorite thing about Tet or Vietnamese Lunar New Year is just the coming together of friends and family, looking forward to a new year, wishing for good luck and prosperity and all the food that people gather around,” Tran said.

Last year the organization decided to host a smaller event due to concerns around the pandemic and had a smaller photo booth event open to community members to use. This year, the organization decided to strategically divide the celebration of the holiday into three separate weekends.

“So last weekend, we had a cooking class where people learned how to make traditional Vietnamese Lunar New Year food,” Tran said. “Next weekend, we’re opening up our new art exhibit.”

On Jan. 22 local chefs from Phở Bắc and Ba Sa Restaurant taught event attendees how to make bánh tét, which is native to central and south Vietnam. The Tết Market included flower arrangements by Emerald City Flowers, drinks and snacks from Hello Em Việt Coffee & Roastery, a live indoor mural painting by local artist Dozfy, and live performances from the Mak Fai Kung Fu Dragon & Lion Dance Association.

“I’m hoping that with a lot of people coming to the space, whether it’s for the cafe or Little Saigon Creative space, they get to get a glimpse into Vietnamese culture and how we celebrate traditions,” Tran said.

All photos by Ronnie Estoque

This photo essay and other articles in this issue are part of a special project between the International Examiner and the South Seattle Emerald to produce content in 2022 addressing Asian and Pacific Islander racism and resilience through activism, art, celebrating culture and community organizing. We thank the City of Seattle Human Services Department for their support in bringing this content to our readership and others.

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