In part because of yesterday’s dust-up here (the other part being, work), I completely forgot to mention that Monday, January 27 was the first day of the lunar new year or, if you’re Vietnamese, Tet. This year, we let go of the Year of the Water Rat and usher in the Year of the Ox or Water Buffalo. These are the strong, silent, hard-working symbol of the zodiacs. If you were born in roughly 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961 1973, 1985, or 1997, this is your year. Obama, I’m looking at you.
Where the West celebrates its new year with a brief, one day December 31-to-January 1 hangover (y’all are doing this wrong), we have a week long community celebration with booze, non-stop food, and (the best part) little red envelopes full of money. Sidenote: If you see a bunch of Asian people right around this time lining up at your local bank, this is why: new bills. Crisp, fresh-from-the-mint dollar bills symbolize a fresh start and good luck. I loved receiving new Tet bills, but always was stingy with how I spent it, the same way Charlie Bucket was stingy about his eating his one fifth portion of chocolate on his birthday. So sad.
To celebrate the New Year, Chinatown will host the annual Golden Dragon Parade on Saturday. Festivities start at 10am, the dragon parade starts at 2. This gives you plenty of time to wander the streets and hit up the very likely overcrowded Empress Pavillion, CBS Seafood (tip: try the takeout side, immediately adjacent to the restaurant, instead), or other delicious foods made especially for the New Year. Gung hay fat choy! Chúc mừng năm mới!