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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Boston VSAs celebrate Lunar New Year with marketplace event

Jacob Murphy
In this game, players try to steal other players’ balloons while protecting their own. Students from different schools played together to try to be the last one standing.

While many Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year, Vietnam holds their own celebrations for a holiday known as Tết Nguyên Đán (commonly referred to as Tết) to celebrate the new year and the coming spring.

Suffolk University’s Vietnamese Student Association teamed up with multiple VSAs in the Boston area to host a Tết Market Friday evening that would be a celebration of the holiday. 

The holiday was held on Feb. 1 this year. People may choose to keep the festivities longer, sometimes lasting up to a week, according to Vietnam Online

Boston University’s VSA hosted the event at their school’s George Sherman Union Backcourt. Vietnamese student associations from UMass Boston and Tufts were also in attendance.

President of Suffolk’s VSA, Tina Vo, hopes that holding events like this will be able to deepen the sense of community among Vietnamese students in Boston.

“We always tell our members to come, and there’s a really great opportunity for them to come and meet other students from other schools,” Vo said.

Each VSA executive board hosted its own booth, where participants would line up to test their mettle (or luck) in traditional Vietnamese games.

Prizes ranged from candy to raffle tickets that could be used to win one of a few different prizes at the end of the night, including shirts, plushies and a D.I.Y. boba kit.

Suffolk’s booth featured cup pong, a game where you have to throw balls into cups for various prizes. Other schools hosted games like plinko, bầu cua tôm cá, and a ring toss game.

Photobooth pictures could be taken with options for Polaroid or digital photos. The booth was decorated with red adornments, a color closely associated with Tết.

Each executive board falls under the New England Intercollegiate Vietnamese Student Association, an organization that helps to facilitate collaboration between different VSAs in the region.

Vo is also the internal vice president of NEIVSA.

“For this event, [Boston University’s VSA] actually reached out to all the schools that were or have been a part of NEIVSA, so we all collaborated together and that’s how we came up with this event,” Vo said.

Vo shared the traditions associated with Tết, such as eating traditional food and the gifting of red envelopes from elders to children.

According to the Vietnam Culinary Travel Agency, Banh Chung is a square-shaped treat heavily associated with the holiday. A rice cake is shaped into a square and filled with a meat filling or covered in a bean paste, then wrapped together in banana leaves.

Vivian Vue, a UMass Boston student who attended the event, talked about her and her sister’s favorite traditional foods.

“Not a lot of people like this, one of the foods is called bittermelon soup. Not a lot of people like it because it’s too bitter, but that’s one of our favorite foods,” Vue said.

Red envelopes, typically filled with money, are also heavily associated with the holiday.

“The elders will usually give the red envelope to the children, and the children will give a blessing to the older family members,” Vo said.

As attendees walked in, they were handed red envelopes containing small keepsakes, such as stickers, instead of money.

Vo said Tết is an important time to spend with family and loved ones, as well as a good time for donning holiday garb.

“[My favorite] is the celebration of wearing our traditional dress which is the áo dài,” Vo said.

About halfway through the event, everyone took out their phones to play a spirited game of Kahoot, which asked participants cultural questions and about translations from Vietnamese. 

Kahoot wasn’t the only way to scratch one’s competitive itch. One game involved trying to steal opposing players’ balloons while protecting your own. The card game Tiến Lên, also known as Thirteen, was also played.

Daniella Nguyen was another attendee at the Tết Market who said Tiến lên is one of her favorite traditions.

“It’s a card game where you play against four people and you bet money. That’s one of the traditions my family does,” Nguyen said.

If you missed out on the Tết market but still want to celebrate with the Vietnamese community, Suffolk’s VSA is partnering with the university’s Asain American Association for Stuff-A-Tiger on Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Sawyer lobby.

Chúc mừng năm mới! (Happy New Year!)

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About the Contributor
Jacob Murphy, Meteorologist/Staff Writer | he/him
Jacob is a senior studying broadcast journalism with a recently added environmental science minor. Growing up in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Jacob got his start on the journalism track with his passion for weather forecasting and storm chasing. He ended up falling in love with the newsroom and hopes to one day become a weatherman. Outside of The Journal, Jacob spends a lot of his time acting as the President of Suffolk Volleyball Club; a club which he founded his freshman year. Follow Jacob on Twitter: @jafreese02

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Boston VSAs celebrate Lunar New Year with marketplace event