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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Lunar New Year

Westminster and Santa Ana Celebrate Tết

By Erika TaylorFebruary 11, 2024

Thousands gathered on Bolsa Avenue today to ring in Lunar New Year through the City of Westminster’s annual Tết parade.

The parade featured floats, martial arts demonstrations, community organizations, dances, color guards and a host of other cultural performances.

For over two decades, the parade has weaved through the heart of Little Saigon, a cultural enclave of Vietnamese-Americans in the county.

Nearly 40,000 Vietnamese-Americans call Westminster home – making it one of the largest Vietnamese communities outside of Vietnam. 

Santa Ana celebrated Lunar New Year earlier in the month, at the inaugural Tết Festival at Centennial Park.

A family poses for a photo at the Tet Lunar New Year Festival at Centennial Park in Santa Ana, Calif. on Feb. 2, 2024.

For some, the celebrations are a reminder of home. 

“I grew up in Vietnam, and only moved to the states a few years ago,” said Ashley Tran, who is a Westminster resident. “It’s my first time at the parade, but it reminds me of home.”

Tran said that Lunar New Year festivities are similar in Vietnam, but that it’s generally more relaxing and family-focused, as many choose to return to their hometown for the holiday.

Ashley Tran, a Westminster resident, at the 2024 Tết Parade on Feb. 10, 2024. Tran was raised in Vietnam, and shared that she was happy to see the city celebrate Vietnamese culture. Credit: ERIKA TAYLOR, Voice of OC

Families were among the crowds on Bolsa Ave. for the parade.

“Today we are here to celebrate Lunar New Year with our daughter,” said Daniel Castillan, who attended the parade with his wife Michelle and their one-year-old daughter, Cleo. “I’m half Filipino, and my wife is Chinese and Vietnamese. We want to pass the tradition on to her.”

“This is the biggest population of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam, so it’s important that cities help their residents celebrate their culture and traditions,” Castillan said.

Michelle Casillan, Cleo Casillan and Daniel Casillan at the 2024 Tết Parade on Feb. 10, 2024. Michelle is of Chinese and Vietnamese heritage, and Daniel is half Filipino. Credit: ERIKA TAYLOR, Voice of OC

Like Castillan, many are happy to see cities like Westminster and Santa Ana celebrating Asian culture.

“Lunar New Year is part of our culture, and it’s good to see cities recognize it, because people are more aware of diversity and inclusion now,” said Tuan Nguyen, who also attended the Tết Parade in Westminster for the first time this year. “It’s important to have the recognition of culture in communities like this.”

Students from the Westminster School District dance in front of the main stage at the 2024 Tết Parade on Feb. 10, 2024. Credit: ERIKA TAYLOR, Voice of OC

Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian cultures, including Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese communities.

Lunar New Year is known as Tết in Vietnam. In China, the holiday is called the Spring Festival. In North and South Korea, it is known as Seollal. In Tibet, Losar. In Mongolia, Tsagaan Sar.

It begins with the first new moon between the end of January and beginning of February. The celebration stretches for 15 days after that, until a full moon rises. This date is different yearly. 

This year, Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 10.

2024 is the year of the Dragon, one of twelve Zodiac animals that is commemorated each year.

Students from the Westminster School District perform a dance at the 2024 Westminster Tết Parade on Feb. 10, 2024. Credit: ERIKA TAYLOR, Voice of OC
Qing Wei Cultural Troupe perform a lion and Dragon dance to cap off the night at the Tet Lunar New Year Festival in Santa Ana on Feb. 3, 2024.
Ted Nguyen, 54, from Laguna Niguel works for the Orange County Transportation Authority is excited to celebrate the inaugural Santa Ana Tet Festival with the Asian-American community and people of all backgrounds on Feb 3, 2024 in Santa Ana, Calif. Credit: Fashion Castillo-Delgadillo
Event attendees showcase their Asian heritage by placing pins on a map of Asia at the Santa Ana Tet Festival on Feb 3, 2024 in Santa Ana, Calif. Credit: Fashion Castillo-Delgadillo
Vinh Bui (right), 77, is a Santa Ana resident attending the 2024 Santa Ana Tet Festival. Bui expresses his excitement to have his names written for him in Chinese by the Irvine Evergreen Chinese Senior Association booth on Feb 3, 2024 in Santa Ana, Calif. Credit: Fashion Castillo-Delgadillo
Performers showcase traditional Vovinam, a Vietnamese martial art, sword fighting on-stage at the Santa Ana Tet Festival on Feb 3, 2024 in Santa Ana, Calif. Credit: Fashion Castillo-Delgadillo
Anthony Cao, from Fountain Valley, moved to California from Vietnam and is a dentist as well as a master in Vovinam, the official martial arts of Vietnam. He shared how special it was to see so many people, especially the younger generation, celebrating their culture at the Tet Lunar New Year Festival. Credit: GIL BOTHWELL, Voice of OC
Brian Le, Angela Ngo, Vinh Le, Vy Dao. An Pham, Han Nguyen, and Hong Lam at the 2024 Tết Parade on Feb. 10, 2024. Credit: ERIKA TAYLOR, Voice of OC
Traditional lanterns and decorations cover booths throughout the Santa Ana Tet Festival on Feb 3, 2024 in Santa Ana, Calif. Event attendees have the opportunity to make their own at various booths throughout the festival. Credit: Fashion Castillo-Delgadillo
Spectators watch the firework show during the Tet Lunar New Year Festival at Centennial Park in Santa Ana, Calif. on Feb. 2, 2024. Credit: GIL BOTHWELL, Voice of OC
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