Chúc Mừng Năm Mới

VSA’s First-Ever Lunar New Year Show

On Saturday, Jan. 28, SLU’s Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) transformed the Saint Louis Room in the Busch Student Center into a slice of Vietnam. In celebration of the Lunar New Year, VSA hosted their first ever Tết show. Lunar New Year, following the first new moon on the Lunar calendar, represents an important celebration in many East and Southeast Asian cultures. Celebrations typically last several days with traditional foods, family gatherings and festivities. VSA’s Tết also had a “Paris by Night” theme featuring a red carpet and photo booth inspired by the Vietnamese variety show series. The evening was filled with food, fortune, culture and community, honoring many themes of the Lunar New Year.

Before the show began, the audience was treated to a bountiful buffet of traditional Vietnamese foods. Among the dishes were cơm chiên chay (fried rice), bánh bột lọc (shrimp and pork-filled steamed dumplings), goi ga (chicken cabbage salad), cánh gà chiên nước mắm (chicken wings glazed in fish sauce) and heo quay (crispy roasted pork belly).

Hannah Johnson

Desserts consisted of bánh bò (sponge cake), xôi ngọt (sweet sticky rice) and bánh rán (sesame balls). There was also a beautiful cake covered in fruits and with “Chúc Mừng Năm Mới” (“Happy New Year” in Vietnamese) written on top. 

Amy Tang

The food was catered from local restaurants including Joyful House, Old St. Louis Chop Suey and Wei Hong Bakery. Additionally, performer and VSA co-freshman representative Andrea Pham shared that her mother made a special dish called bánh tét for the event. This dish consists of a pork core covered in savory green beans and a layer of sticky rice.

“Bánh tét is typically eaten only during Lunar New Year,” Pham said.

Before the show, audience members were given the opportunity to test their luck by purchasing raffle tickets. Throughout the performances, raffle winners were selected for prizes such as an Asian snack basket, a boba plushie, a gift card to Pan-Asia Supermarket, spices and the grand prize of a new iPad. 

Further tapping into the Lunar New Year theme of fortune, audience members were given the opportunity to earn a red envelope during the show. A traditional token of good wishes, these small envelopes are traditionally filled with money and given to loved ones during celebrations such as the Lunar New Year in many Asian cultures. To earn a red envelope, audience members were tasked with pronouncing “Chúc Mừng Năm Mới” (“Happy New Year” in Vietnamese). Additionally, all audience members were surprised with a red envelope underneath their chairs. Many of the envelopes were filled with golden chocolate coins, and a few extra-fortunate individuals received a voucher to visit the local boba tea shop called Honey Bee Tea.

Hat Dance (Amy Tang)

The first performance of the show was the Hat Dance, where a group of students performed a traditional dance with bamboo hats to the song “Ngày Tết Việt Nam.”

Lion Dance (Amy Tang)

Lion Dance, performed to a traditional drum beat, featured vibrant lion costumes seen at various celebrations across several Asian cultures.

There was also the crowd-favorite Fan Dance, where VSA utilized colorful fans in a dance to “Kém Duyên.”

Fan Dance (Amy Tang)









The show included acts by other student organizations as well. The Ode to K-Pop dance group performed to “Shutdown” by Blackpink, which had many audience members singing and dancing in their seats. SLU’s Filipino Student Association (FSA) also performed a traditional dance.

The musical acts included a cover of “Waiting for You” by Mono and a piano cover of “B Rossette.” To close out the night, a duet-mashup of “Nàng Thơ” by Hoang Dung and “Trời Giấu Trời Mang Đi” by Amee brought a sense of community as audience members created a sea of flashlights swaying to the beat. 

Building off of the theme of community, the Tết show brought together many different people, including members of VSA, families and even students who do not typically celebrate the Lunar New Year. Groups of friends took photos on the red carpet, and many friends and family were dressed in traditional clothing. The show even included an Áo dài dress competition, where audience members who were wearing traditional clothing went onstage and the rest of the audience cheered for their favorite outfit. Furthermore, many families, local businesses and SLU’s Cross Cultural Center sponsored the event, helping bring a unique cultural experience to members of the SLU community.

Months of preparations by VSA and rehearsals by performers went into making this show come together. 

Planning for the event began “during [the] first semester so that we were ready,” Pham said. 

VSA member Sahra Shah, who performed in the Lion Dance, also spoke about her experience preparing for the event. “We started [practicing] a couple weeks before [winter] break,” Shah said, but she said, “after break, it was more intense.”

In the end, all the hard work paid off for the performers and organizers of the event. Both Pham and Shah shared that performing at the event was an impactful experience. 

“It felt like I was able to connect more to my culture, which was something that I did not do much when I was in high school,” Pham said. 

“I was able to get out of my comfort zone,” Shah said, and she described it as, “Such a different style of dancing than I’ve ever done. It was a good experience.”

A night full of luck, love and laughter, VSA’s first-ever Tết show was a great success. The organizers of the event shared that the demand for tickets was unexpected, attesting to the importance of the event for many members of the SLU community.

“The tickets sold out after two days of tabling,” Pham shared.

Looking toward the next Tết, Pham shared that VSA plans to have more seats for next year’s event. 

Shah described the event as “a great first time,” and she was pleased to see the performers and family members alike enjoy the experience. “It’s going to be hard to top it next year,” Shah said. Until then, Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!