As many of you in the neighborhood probably noticed, today Little Saigon was transformed for the Tet festivities of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (“Hoi Cho Tet Tan Mao” in Vietnamese), organized by the Vietnamese Community Center of San Francisco. Tet (the Lunar New Year) is the most important holiday in Vietnam, traditionally a time of rest for both laborers and the land they cultivate, after months of hard work. Tet is about renewal, a time to get together with family and pay respects to ancestors. Many bought banh chung, a square cake made of sticky rice, pork and mung beans, to eat in honor of ancestors, said Hung Tran, 53, a founder of the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center.

In spite of the rain, yesterday’s festivities were well-attended, as colorful and cheerful as every year. Here’s how the recently launched Creosote Journal describes it:

According to the Vietnamese zodiac, 2011 is the Year of the Metal Cat. A prowler by nature, the cat represents sensitivity, gentleness and kindness. The metal cat—as opposed to the wood and water cats of other years—sets itself apart through the virtues of resiliency, determination and strength. Children that are born this year are said to have these qualities, and one would be hard pressed to find a better combination of them for this moment in history. Today, the four square blocks of San Francisco’s Tenderloin recently named Little Saigon transformed into a ribbon of food stalls, flower vendors, a smattering of American and South Vietnamese flags, bubble makers, balloons, entertainment; and possibly most amazing given the density of this neighborhood, a ferris wheel overlooking the whole scene. One more reason to love San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.

So Happy New Kitteh Year, y’all! In Vietnamese, that’s “chuc mung nam moi”.

Tet Festival by Aurora King/Creosote Magazine

Creosote has a few other photos of the festival, and below you have a little selection from the Tender’s Flickr pool. Enjoy!

Tet Festival by Troy Tran

Ed Lee at Tet Festival by Megan Wolfe

Tet Festival by David Yu

Tet Festival Wheel by DancesWithPixels

Concert on Larkin by Sirgious

Lion Dancer by Erik Wilson