Vietnamese Year of the Cat Slinks into the Tenderloin for Tet

Categories: Events, Food Fests

Say it with us: Chuc mung nam moi!
​The Tenderloin's Little Saigon will be transformed this weekend for Sunday's 15th Annual Vietnamese New Year Tet Festival ("Hoi Cho Tet Tan Mao" in Vietnamese), organized by the Vietnamese Community Center of San Francisco. Tet (lunar New Year) is the most important holiday in Vietnam, traditionally a time of rest for both laborers and the land they cultivate, after months of hard work. Tet is about renewal, a time to get together with family and pay respects to ancestors.

San Francisco's celebration is a modest event compared to the humongous (and much older) Tet Festival in San Jose, Feb. 5-6 at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds.

Sunday's celebration ushers in the Year of the Cat, the only animal symbol in the Vietnamese 12-year cycle that differs from the Chinese zodiac, which is marking the Year of the Hare, or Rabbit. Nobody can quite account for the difference ― maybe a phonetic misinterpretation, a confusion of "mao," "mau," and "meo." Throw in "meow," and it's enough to confuse anybody.

Sunday's festivities commence with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m., followed by the customary firecrackers and lion dancing. At 11:55 a.m. any children present will receive red envelopes with candy. The musical programs start at 12:30 p.m., then check the booths to sample street food, play games, and browse art and crafts. Of course, it's a great time to share a meal with friends at any of the Vietnamese restaurants on Larkin. We're partial to the pho at Turtle Tower.

Happy new year! In Vietnamese, that's "chuc mung nam moi!"

15th Annual Vietnamese New Year Tet Festival in San Francisco
Where: Larkin street, between Eddy and O'Farrell
When: Sun., Jan. 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Free

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