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Where EAST meets the Northwest

CELEBRATING TET. "Voyage to Vietnam: Celebrating the Tet Festival" is opening at the Portland Children’s Museum on February 9. The new exhibit offers an opportunity to discover the beauty, sights, and sounds of Vietnam through hands-on interactive displays, including a lion dance (left photo), a family altar in honor of ancestors (right photo), and more. (Photos courtesy of the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose)

VOYAGE TO VIETNAM. "Voyage to Vietnam: Celebrating the Tet Festival" is on view February 9 through May 6 at the Portland Children’s Museum. Part of the display highlights popular musical instruments. (Photo courtesy of the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose)

From The Asian Reporter, V28, #3 (February 5, 2018), pages 10 & 18.

"Voyage to Vietnam: Celebrating the Tet Festival"

opens February 9 at the Portland Children’s Museum

"Voyage to Vietnam: Celebrating the Tet Festival" is opening at the Portland Children’s Museum on Friday, February 9. The new exhibit, which was developed by the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, offers an opportunity to discover the beauty, sights, and sounds of Vietnam through its most important celebration of the year — Tet — the Vietnamese New Year.

While welcoming and celebrating the Year of the Dog this year, museum-goers are invited to view the Tet Festival in modern day Vietnam until May 6, 2018. Through interactive displays and trilingual signage (English, Vietnamese, and Spanish), visitors learn about the traditions, customs, and values exemplified by the annual celebration.

Youngsters and their caregivers enter "Voyage to Vietnam" at the start of the two-week celebration, when families go to the outdoor market to shop for fruits, vegetables, and other needed items. Often they’ll also buy a red carp, because in northern Vietnam there is a legend that says if a carp is released in a nearby river or pond, it will carry the kitchen gods to the Jade Emperor with a good report about your family.

After arriving back home, the newly purchased foods are prepared in an indoor or outdoor kitchen space. One of the special foods prepared are rice cakes — round ones in northern Vietnam and square ones in the south. People also clean their homes thoroughly to begin the New Year with a fresh start.

Similar to most families in Vietnam, the residence in "Voyage to Vietnam" has an altar that honors ancestors. After looking at the items on the altar — photos, an incense burner, candles, a tea set — guests young and old may try on ao dai (traditional clothing).

After spending time in the home, it’s time to go out into the community to celebrate. The interactive lion dance exhibit is the activity encountered next. Youngsters are able to duck under the lion head to dance and also control the lion’s eyes and mouth.

Shortly after performing the lion dance, children learn about popular musical instruments in Vietnam — a bamboo flute, a monochord, a moon lute, and a zither. Around the next corner is Bau cua ca cop, a popular betting game, as well as a challenge to cross a bamboo bridge without holding the handrail.

Before leaving the exhibit, everyone has a chance to look at the Vietnamese zodiac wheel where they can locate their zodiac year.

Chuc Mung Nam Moi! (Happy New Year!)

The Portland Children’s Museum is located at 4015 S.W. Canyon Road in Portland. Hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm daily. The first Friday of each month from 4:00pm to 8:00pm is "Target Free First Friday." To learn more, call (503) 223-6500 or visit <www.portlandcm.org>.

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