, Port Arthur, Texas

February 8, 2013

Buu Mon Temple rings in Year of the Snake Saturday

Brooke Crum
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — As people depart Procter Street late Saturday night as the Mardi Gras festivities start to wind down, Port Arthur’s Buu Mon Buddhist Temple will be rocking just down the street with midnight revelers ready to ring in the Year of the Snake.

Tet, the Vietnamese name for the Lunar New Year Celebration, is the most important holiday in the Vietnamese culture, said April Tran, community relations liaison at the temple. Some celebrate for several days or even two weeks.

The holiday will be celebrated with a midnight mass service at the Buu Mon Buddhist Temple, a performance by the Temple Lion and Dragon dancers and the commemorative picking of red envelopes from a chrysanthemum tree, which symbolizes the passing of prosperity and luck from older generations to the younger, Tran said.

“It’s a tradition we have every year at the temple,” she said.

Tet is the time for new beginnings and letting go of the painful past, Tran said. It is time for starting anew and letting bygones be just that —  bygones. And it is a time to share happiness, peace and love.

The new lunar year begins this year on Feb. 10 — the Year of the Snake. There are 12 animal symbols of the Chinese zodiac, which follows the lunar cycle: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar.

People influenced by this sign were born in the years 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989 and 2001.

The Lunar New Year falls on a different date each year because it follows a complex calendar system that calculates time according to the schedules of the sun and the moon, according to a Columbia University “Asia for Educators” article.

The midnight celebration will also feature the chanting of blessings and speeches by honored community officials and venerable monks, Tran said.

The Buu Mon Buddhist Temple is located in downtown Port Arthur at 2701 Procter Street.

New Year superstitions:

• Old debts should be paid, and all things borrowed should be returned. Nothing should be lent on the first morning of the New Year. Those who do, could very well be lending all the year.

• The entire house should be cleaned before the New Year’s Day. On New Year’s Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment are put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done for fear that good fortune will be swept away.

• Red clothing is preferred during this festive occasion. Red is considered a bright, happy color, sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future. It is believed that appearance and attitude during New Year's sets the tone for the rest of the year. Children and unmarried friends, as well as close relatives are given lai see, little red envelopes with crisp one dollar bills inserted, for good fortune.

• Refrain from using foul language and bad or unlucky words. Negative terms are not to be uttered. Death and dying are never mentioned and ghost stories are totally taboo. References to the past year are also avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.

• Those who cry on the New Year will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.

• Sprinkle lime power around the house to expel evil.

• Do not sweep the house or empty out the rubbish to avoid luck and benefits going with it, especially on the first day of the new year.

• Do not give presents of clocks or watches to avoid the recipient’s time passing.

• Do not buy or wear white clothes because white is the color of funeral sin Vietnam.

• On New Year's Day, avoid washing one’s hair because it will wash away good luck.  

• The first person one meets and the first words heard are significant as to what the fortunes would be for the entire year. It is a lucky sign to see or hear songbirds or red-colored birds or swallows.

• It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.

• Do not use knives or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.


twitter: @broocrum