Chinese vs. Lunar New Year: A Mini-Lesson in Cultural Sensitivity

Image courtesy of Báo giao thông

Since it’s that time of year again and the Lunar Year of the Rat is right around the corner, I feel compelled to state the obvious. With all due respect to China, it does not have a monopoly on this or any other Lunar New Year. Tết Nguyên Đán (Tết), as it’s known here, is the most important holiday and celebration in Vietnamese culture. (This year it falls on Saturday, 25 January 2020. Three days and counting!)

It never ceases to amaze me how many foreign colleagues send Chinese New Year messages to Vietnamese and other non-Chinese colleagues who celebrate the Lunar New Year. (Even in China, this celebration is usually referred to as Spring Festival.)

Something to keep in mind, dear colleagues, before you send out your next email blast to Vietnamese students, parents, partners, and colleagues. They’ll appreciate your cultural awareness and sensitivity.

Shalom (שלום), MAA