Tet Nguyen Dan is the most important celebration of Vietnamese culture. Translated to mean “the first morning of the first day,” Tet celebrates the Lunar New Year. During Tet, Vietnamese express their respect for their ancestors and welcome the New Year. According to the Vietnamese Zodiac, 2016 is the year of the monkey.
Roman Catholic missionaries arrived in Vietnam in the 1500s with French and Portuguese traders and converted some Vietnamese. Because large numbers of them fled Vietnam after the Communist takeover, Catholics now compose 23 percent of Vietnamese Americans. Southern California boasts the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam, with more than 200,000 residents.
Members of the local Vietnamese community gathered Monday at the Vietnamese Catholic Center in Santa Ana to celebrate Tet Nguyen Dan with Bishop Kevin Vann and Bishop Emeritus Dominic Luong.