At Saigon Market, the Vietnamese New Year was ushered in with a feast and
wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Dog.
Chúc Mừng Năm Mớ
Hung and Phung Lam came to the United States in the 1980s as refugees from Vietnam. Sponsored by a man in Georgia, they learned English and found work. After owning a Chinese restaurant in Greenville, the Lams opened Saigon Market in 1995. Though the store is now owned by their children, Ruby and Jason, the whole family, including Ruby’s husband and an uncle, works there.
February 18, Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, was celebrated at the market. The altar displayed at the front of the store was decked out in the bright reds and yellows symbolic of the season. An entire roast pig lay waiting, while the crowd gathered there to celebrate clamored for a taste. Bowls were filled with symbolic fruit – coconut, papaya and mango – the three, when said together in Vietnamese, form the words “enough to spend” – a wish that there will be enough money to last the whole year.
While Tet is celebrated every year at Saigon Market, the aisles of the market are lined with a million exotic reasons to visit throughout the year. The store sells Vietnamese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, African and Micronesian foods. Vietnamese bakery items and roast pig and duck are delivered from Atlanta every Thursday. Products are selected by word of mouth. Ruby says if a customer comes in looking for something they don’t have, they’ll try to find it.
Writer: Ellen Schwartz