January 13, 2017

Vietnamese New Year Mass to be celebrated on Jan. 29

By Victoria Arthur (Special to The Criterion)

The calendar may read mid-January, but for the Vietnamese community, New Year’s celebrations are still to come.

The Vietnamese Lunar New Year, known as Tet Nguyen Dan or simply “Tet,” is a three-day event that begins this year on Jan. 28. Vietnamese Catholics in Indianapolis are busy preparing for their annual Tet Mass, which is rich in meaning and ritual. All are welcome to attend the special Mass, set for 1 p.m. on Jan. 29, at St. Joseph Church, 1375 S. Mickley Ave., in Indianapolis.

“This is the biggest and most important festival for Vietnamese people of all religions,” said Chau Kachelmyer, a leader of the Vietnamese Catholic Congregation, which is based at St. Joseph Parish. “Tet is the most grand event for our culture. Children come home, no matter where they have been, to celebrate with loved ones. Friends exchange gifts, we pay respect to our ancestors, and we thank God for the last year and ask for his blessing on the New Year.”

The Jan. 29 liturgy will include a number of special symbols and rituals, Kachelmyer said. One is selecting a Scripture passage hanging on a mai flower tree—a custom harkening to the Vietnamese tradition of picking a bud from a tree to bring good luck in the new year.

“One member of each family will get in line to receive the word of God from the tree and practice and pray it as instructed,” she said. “Also during the Mass, four different generations will pay respects with incense in front of the altar.”

A reception with music and traditional Vietnamese food will follow in the parish hall. †


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