Traditions of Vietnam
The traditions of Vietnam have developed for thousands of years and today the people of the country still honor the ancient customs that gradually intertwine with new rituals. The traditions of Vietnam are based on respect for elders and good family relations. Many traditions of Vietnam are associated with the tradition of veneration of the dead, so in every house there is an altar on which water, fruits, flowers are constantly updated (this tradition applies not only to residential premises, such altars can be seen in restaurants, shops and offices).
Traditions of Vietnam: holidays
The traditions of Vietnam also include certain rituals and attributes in the celebration of important events.
Tet — the New lunar year
The most important holiday in Vietnam is the Tet — a holiday of the onset of spring and the New lunar year. Traditions associated with the onset of the New Year in Vietnam are somewhat similar to ours, but in some ways different. For example, the Vietnamese decorate their homes, shops, restaurants and streets preparing for the holiday. But we are used to shiny tinsel and Christmas trees, while the Vietnamese surround themselves with flowers during these days. The symbol of Tet is the flowering branches of peach and apricot trees. You can see large and small pots with flowering plants all over the streets, and the shops put paper flowers of different colors on their windows. Everything turns bright and festive. Even the roads before Tet bloom with nice colors, because every Vietnamese citizen carries home a lot of beautiful flowers. Don’t forget the presents, the important attribute of every New Year. In Vietnam, there is a custom of giving children small red envelopes with money (by the way, the same envelopes are usually given for a wedding or birthday ;)).
Tet for the Vietnamese is a family holiday and a reason to remember their ancestors. It is believed that on this day the deceased relatives join the solemn ritual. A festive table is served at home, and ell family members try not to plan any trips for this period and stay home. That’s why just before Tet and after it there is huge traffic jam on the streets of Vietnam. All the people go to celebrate the New Year from their workplaces to homes, to see parents, family, ancestors.
During the celebration of Tet, many shops and businesses are closed, and festivals are held in the streets. One of the brightest performances of Vietnamese dancers are dragon and lion dances. In the lion dance, each character hides two people dressed in a spectacular costume, they use elements of acrobatics in their performances and their huge lion looks very mobile. In the dragon dance, a group of men controls a large paper snake with the sticks, making it perform stunningly beautiful pirouettes to the rhythms of the drums.
Tet is celebrated every year on different dates because Tet is associated with the lunar calendar year. Usually it is a day in January or February.
The middle of autumn
Every year, Vietnam celebrates a children’s holiday in the middle of autumn. On a festive night, children gather in the open air, eat traditional pies and fruits, sing and dance. There are various games, in public places you can see dragon and lion dances.
Victory Day is celebrated in Vietnam on April 30. It’s a national holiday. TV broadcasts films and documentaries about the war, the cities held rallies and honor veterans. If you stay at the seashore in the tourist area during this period, expect many locals coming for holidays.
Christmas, celebrated on January 25, is also a big holiday in Vietnam. This tradition emerged after French colonization, when many Vietnamese adopted the Catholic faith. At Christmas, the streets of Vietnam are decorated with bright lights, each Catholic Church (of which there are many) has a grand installation on the birth of Christ. Similar installations are also located near many houses, cafes and shops, even in the smallest most remote villages. Everything at Christmas is illuminated, bright and very beautiful. And, of course, there are figures of Santa Claus everywhere. Parents bring their children to take pictures of them with Christmas trees, Jesus and Santa; so many decorations cause lots of excitement.
The Vietnamese wedding
As for personal holidays, weddings are celebrated in a big way in Vietnam, because this is one of the most important days for every family. The place where the Vietnamese wedding takes place (it can be a restaurant or the area right next to the house) is brightly decorated. Guests gather here to congratulate the newlyweds. Photo shoot is a must-have event for every couple. Interesting fact: the Vietnamese bride can have several wedding dresses. At the wedding, there is always a host, and the guests sing karaoke (karaoke in general is very common and popular in Vietnam, it is necessary to sing very loud, using microphone, even for those who have no aural or singing skills;))
Holidays in Vietnam are always very colorful and interesting, but all tourists should note that if their stay coincides with the celebration of large-scale Vietnamese holidays, for example, Tet, it is better to take care of tickets for buses and transfers in advance. The price for tickets skyrockets during these periods, and sometimes it’s literally impossible to buy them.
National Vietnamese dress
For many of us, Vietnam is associated with a round palm hat. These hats are really still in use by the locals. They protect from the sun and are worn by peasants, who work in the field and urban residents, who want to protect themselves from bright rays. These hats are sold in many stores, along with other souvenirs, so everyone can take a piece of Vietnam home. Generally, they are decorated with simple embroidery and are more expensive in the stores, than at the market.
On Vietnamese streets, you can often see girls in traditional cloth. Ao dai is a long dress with slits on the sides and loose trousers. In the eighteenth the upper classes wore this type of clothing. Today Western clothing is pushing ao dai out, however, traditional dresses are used as uniform in schools (high school students wear them). Some flight attendants or bank employees, as well as other professionals wear ao dai.
Vietnamese water puppetry is a kind of traditional performance you are unlikely to find in other countries. This art has existed for more than 1000 years! In addition, although it is now more popular among tourists than among the Vietnamese themselves, it is nevertheless a great heritage and modern culture of Vietnam.
Initially, Vietnamese peasants were making puppets for their own entertainment and arranging performances on rice fields flooded with rainwater, on ponds and lakes. The puppets represent creatures of Vietnamese mythology: the dragon represents the symbol of wisdom, the turtle represents longevity, the unicorn – the power of mind and body, and the phoenix – the vital energy.