By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — The Lunar New Year celebrates the end of the season in which the harvest is brought in. The Lunar New Year celebration is a “thank you” to God for the harvest and “is like Thanksgiving to the Vietnamese,” said Lien Truong, the cathedral’s Vietnamese assistant.
The Vietnamese Catholic community also remembered ancestors and wished friends the best as part of a Lunar New Year celebration Feb. 7 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
A Mass was celebrated at the cathedral with Father Thang Hoang, SVD, who is with Divine Word College in Epworth. Three other priests from the college concelebrated as well as Father Rich Adam, pastor and rector of the cathedral.
Priests from the college take turns celebrating Mass in Vietnamese since the cathedral does not have a priest in residence who speaks the language. The Mass included various generations of Vietnamese from young children to the elders serving in different roles.
At the end of Mass children were given a red envelope with a “lucky dollar.” After Mass families could take a Scripture reading from a tree in front of the church to reflect on during the year.
Truong said that in Vietnam the Lunar New Year is the only time that the working people will take at least three days to celebrate. Businesses in all of Vietnam’s cities, towns and villages close for this occasion. During these three days, most people will visit temples, churches or the altar at home to give thanks to God, to offer memorial prayers to ancestors and to pray for a more prosperous new year.
“This is also the time for families to be reunited, to visit each other, to give each other food, to wish each other well and to get acquainted with new additional family members as families grow larger.” This year’s Lunar New Year observes the year of the monkey, Truong said. The monkey is traditionally not a sign people want to have a child be born under. “Monkeys jump all over and create quite a stir,” she laughed. Some traits of the monkey include ambition, a sense of adventure, irritability, intelligence, a quick wit, confidence and fearlessness.
At a reception that followed in the parish hall, Vietnamese Catholics set off fake firecrackers, took part in a traditional dragon dance and served traditional Vietnamese food. New this year for the dragon dance was an all girls team and an all boys team. “Since women are now in combat; we look at equal opportunity for our women too,” Truong said.