The Party’s Not Over. The New Year’s Just Begun!
Vietnamese New Year celebrations keep the party rolling.
Mardi Gras has passed and now it’s a time of quiet introspection and self-denial… Well, maybe in some places, but we aren’t very good at that in New Orleans.
Tet, or Vietnamese New Year, is cause for major celebration in New Orleans. Mary Queen of Vietnam Church, located at 14001 Dwyer Boulevard, is the center of a vibrant Vietnamese community and the epicenter of Tet festivities.
The free, three-day event runs from Friday, February 12 to Sunday, February 14. It features Vietnamese food, concerts, dances, carnival games and even a little “train” ride around the event for children.
Tet is a sacred holiday in Vietnam and the Vietnamese-Americans who live in New Orleans have carried on their cultural traditions to celebrate the Lunar New Year. When the Vietnamese began to settle in New Orleans in the mid-1970s, they brought this special celebration with them.
Friday night commences after a Catholic service at Mary Queen of Vietnam Church. Fireworks and traditional dances soon follow.
Saturday and Sunday have a carnival feel and will feature different concerts and performances each day. The carnival games offer interactive entertainment and a feeling of exhilaration or anguish, depending on how successful you are.
The food, however, is the star of the celebration. Vietnamese cuisine uses fresh ingredients to build a brilliant balance of flavors. The bahn mi sandwich elevates basic elements like shrimp, carrots, cilantro and baguettes into the best sandwich you’ve ever had. Pho is a soup that uses an earthy broth to counter the raw quality of bean sprouts and other vegetables. And what late-winter celebration would be complete without crawfish? Boiled crawfish, fried catfish and other seafood is available and cold beer can be purchased to wash it down.
Tet is an important celebration of a New Orleans community that has played a vital role in building and revitalizing many neighborhoods in our area. This event not only shares the cultural practices of the Vietnamese-Americans, it also has a positive economic impact on the church parish and small business owners in the area.
Ample free parking is located across the street from the church. For more information on the Tet Festival or the community in general, call Mary Queen of Peach Church at (504) 254-5660.