Vietnamese Tet Festival
The Vietnamese Community of Clark County will host its annual Lunar New Year Festival, including live music, traditional dances and cultural performances, along with children’s activities and Vietnamese food.
• When: Postponed.
• Where: Roosevelt Elementary School, 2921 Falk Road, Vancouver.
• Admission: Free.
• Information: 360-882-7411.
The Ke Kukui Foundation presents its annual Cultural Lu‘au, as dancers and musicians bring Hawaiian and Polynesian flavors to the Northwest. There will be performances of Hawaiian hula, Samoan, Tahitian and Maori dances, along with flower lei, a Hawaiian feast and silent auction.
• When: Postponed.
• Where: Thomas Jefferson Middle School, 3000 N.W. 119th St., Vancouver.
• Admission: $40.
• Information: 360-921-8816, kekukuifoundation.org.
Year of the Horse Gala
The Vancouver Chinese Association will host a Chinese New Year celebration with a menu of traditional food, red envelopes for good fortune and cultural performances of dance, singing and more. Reservations are required.
• When: Postponed and rescheduled for 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 15.
• Where: Union High School, 6201 N.W. Friberg St., Camas.
• Admission: $8, $6 for seniors and ages 12 and younger, free for ages 3 and younger.
• Information: 360-910-4714, vca-usa.org/blog.
Update: Due to the weather, the organizers of the Cultural Lu'au and Year of the Horse Gala have postponed Saturday's events.
The gala has been moved to next Saturday, Feb. 15 at the same time and place, while the Ke Kukui Foundation plans to reschedule the lu'au for a later date. The Vietnamese Tet Festival is also postponed, and organizers will look to reschedule the festival for a new date.
Expect scattered flowers, with patches of tasty food and dancing, and a high of exploring other heritages.
Three festivals will highlight some of Clark County’s cultures -- a Hawaiian lu‘au, Chinese Year of the Horse Gala and Vietnamese Tet Festival.
As a bonus, the first event of the day is free and doesn’t require a reservation.
For Minh Pham, president of the Vietnamese Community of Clark County, there simply is no bigger festival than Tet. The holiday is like a combination of Thanksgiving and New Year, with feasting, fireworks, music and lots of family, he said.
“This is the biggest event for the community here and the whole Vietnamese community,” Pham said. “Traditionally, we clean up the house, make it look nice, make lots of food. Also, it’s a time for family members to be together. It’s like Thanksgiving, but for a whole week.”
Part of the festivities include decorating with colorful flowers. In the south, yellow flowers are common. In the north, they prefer pink ones, Pham said.
“So we use both to show the colors of both parts of the country,” Pham said. “It brings out the color and culture of the event.”
The special Tet dish, much like Thanksgiving’s turkey, is sticky rice cakes called either Banh Chung, if you’re from north Vietnam, or Banh Tet, if you’re from central or south Vietnam. And the festival will have plenty on hand to taste, Pham said.
“The process (of making them) is very time-consuming,” Pham said. “It’s rice, but they pack it in a banana leaf and cook it for over 10 hours. Inside is some beans, some meat. In Vietnam, they’ve been making them for more than 2,000 years.”
Pham, who fled the country when he was 16 after the Communist takeover, still has fond memories of lighting firecrackers and waiting excitedly for the Banh Tet to be ready. “Back in Vietnam when they (boil) that, it’s over an open fire, and they tell campfire stories all night,” Pham said. “Sometimes people here, they make them using a camping stove, but not as much anymore. Now it’s more ovens.”
The food and traditions are things he hopes to share with
younger generations from all cultures here in Clark County, he said.
“We want to share Vietnamese culture with everyone in Clark County,” Pham said. “This time of year, everybody sits together with all different backgrounds. That’s the point of Tet.”
Tet is not the same as Chinese New Year, even though the lunar-based celebrations of a new year fall at the same time.
Year of the Horse
The Vancouver Chinese Association’s Year of the Horse Gala will celebrate China’s biggest annual cultural festival with authentic Chinese food, dances in bright traditional costumes and a wide array of musical performances.
Tickets cost $8, with some discounts available, and reservations must be made in advance.
There are 12 animals that cycle once every 12 years in Chinese astrology. The horse represents high energy and passion. Along with the performances at the gala, organizers will hand out red envelopes that represent good fortune.
“People born during the Year of the Horse are energetic, intelligent and physically strong. Horses are naturally lucky when it comes to money, resources and career; they are financially independent and stable,” Roger Young, a member of the VCA and an organizer of this year’s event, emailed.
While it’s not tied to a specific holiday, Ke Kukui Foundation’s Cultural Lu‘au is also a fun and colorful way to hip-shake off the winter blues.
The dinner show and fundraiser for Ke Kukui costs $40; proceeds will help pay for other events during the year. Reservations must be made in advance.
“It’s kind of a pre-season show for us,” said Mary Alice Milham, a spokeswoman. “We have another event coming up for May Day (May 1) that’s bigger, because that’s a huge day in Hawaii. But this is also open to the public.”
In the show, dancers will perform in a variety of styles in colorful traditional clothing from Hawaii and other Pacific Islands.
“Flowers, feathers — our costumes are always a super-vibrant part of the show,” Milham said.
Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian and Maori dances will all be part of the performance. And the dinner includes kalua pig, lau lau casserole, lomi salmon, chicken long rice, fresh tropical fruit and other items.
“This is a very fun family event,” Milham said.