Next week, 1/31 to be exact, will see the end of the Year of the Snake and the beginning of the Year of Horse. We call this the Lunar New Year, and those of you who still keep referring to it as “Chinese New Year,” you lose three cultural competency points. That’s like saying “American Christmas” or “Mexican Fourth of July,” all right? We all know that Christmas and Fourth of July are celebrated everywhere.
In Vietnamese culture, we call the Lunar New Year “Tet,” and it is the biggest and best and most festive period in the year ever. The weeks leading up to it are magical, as if everyone in the country just got a general operating grant. People are all busy preparing by decorating with plum and apricot blossoms and making traditional foods like sticky rice cakes and candied coconut, and there is a wonderful energy in the air and the kids are excited and the adults are happy and a few uncles get drunk and fall of their motorcycles while carrying plum or apricot branches home while teenagers point and laugh. Sigh…I miss my childhood…
But Tet is also symbolic, representing a new beginning and a clean slate. So while everyone is high on life during this time, there is a serious side as well. In order to have a great new beginning, people spend considerable time and effort to take care of all the unfinished crap. This goes for individuals, families, and businesses. And of course, this goes for us in the nonprofit field.
So, to start the Year of the Horse off right, we have to take care of stuff that is symbolically weighing us down. I’ve listed some things below. You don’t have to do all of them, but the more you can take care of, the more luck and good fortune you (and your organization) will have in the New Year. Whatever you do, do it BEFORE midnight on 1/31 (Friday morning):