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Our Lady of La Vang celebrates Lunar New Year in Chantilly

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By Jan. 1, the ball had dropped, the champagne glasses were back in the cabinet and the confetti was swept away, but for the community of Our Lady of La Vang Mission, the new year’s celebration was yet to begin.

For a fourth year, the mission held a Tet Lunar New Year Festival to raise funds to build their own church. They worship currently at St. Veronica Church in Chantilly. The two-day event, held this year Jan. 4-5 at Dulles Expo Center, attracts anywhere between 7,000 and 10,000 people and nets $150,000-180,000 for the mission, said Ray Ly, pastoral committee president.

For the festival, the drab expo center was decorated with faux orchids and cherry blossoms and hundreds of glittering red and gold lanterns and fans. The morning began with a traditional ritual honoring God and their Vietnamese ancestors, followed by veterans presenting the U.S. and former Vietnamese flags.

A yellow and a blue dragon kicked off the dancing performances, then roamed through the crowd. Parents handed bills to children who bravely stuck the cash in the dragon’s maw. Teens dressed in black performed a hip hop routine and young women in Vietnamese garb performed a traditional hat dance.

A man puts money in the mouth of the dragon at the Tet Lunar New Year Festival at Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly Jan. 4. ZOEY MARAIST  |  CATHOLIC HERALD

lr 122 tet Members of the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement ran game booths. Two Adorer of the Holy Cross religious sisters helped fashion balloons into flowers and animals. Rows of tables were filled with people enjoying pho, banh mi and milk tea. Dozens of different types of meals, drinks and desserts were sold, along with Vietnamese clothes, trinkets and religious items. On Sunday, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass with the community.

Parishioners of the mission, from Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington and non-Catholic Vietnamese from around the area came to participate in the cultural celebration. Growing up, Ly’s favorite part of Tet was receiving “lucky money” from his parents and elders. He now passes that tradition on to his children. “I got a chance to give them lucky money but (lunar new year) is also an opportunity to get together with friends and family to wish each other well in the coming new year,” he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020

@ZoeyMaraistACH