Interesting Vietnamese culture in festivals and social norms

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The culture of Vietnam is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia. Due to a millennium of Chinese rule, Vietnam was heavily influenced by  Confucian social and moral ethics. Some elements generally considered to be characteristic of Vietnamese culture include ancestor veneration, respect for community and family values, handicrafts and manual labor, and devotion to study.

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Family life

In traditional Vietnamese society, a typical family consists of three or four generations living together. With the mentality “more children, more fortune” and influenced by Confucian thought and feudalism, “male are more important than female” or masculinity, boys are considered as the mainstay of the family and have a decisive voice. Women must abide by the feudalism of the three obediences and the four virtues:

First obedience: subordinate to the father and the elder brothers when young
The second obedience: subordinate to the husband when married
Third obedience: subordinate to the sons when widowed
Four virtues:  Womanly work, womanly appearance, womanly speech, womanly deeds
Since the unification of the country, the Vietnamese government has adopted a number of laws, typically the Marriage and Family Law, to regulate family relationships for equality. In addition, many advocacy measures were also implemented to change backward awareness of people, ensure gender equality, fight for legitimate rights of women.

Today, the scale of a modern Vietnamese family tends to shrink, only 2-3 generations. The number of children of a married couple is two (the majority), the thought of “masculinity” is not as heavy as before and gradually eliminated. The tradition of “respect the older and support the youngsters” has long been maintained and promoted in every Vietnamese family.

The Ao dai via Saigon tourist

Costumes

Most ethnic groups in the Vietnamese territory have their own costumes featuring the traditional identity of their people. In general, most costumes of ethnic groups are decorated with vibrant colors, contrasting such as with black-and-white, black-red, blue-red or blue-white and are made from natural fibers like silk, cotton, spinning textile that is beautiful, durable but still keeps cool, suitable with the tropical climate.

It’s easy to recognize the similarities in the traditional dress of the male and female. Both are tailored from the same fabric, worn with the conventional snug collar and buttoned down on the left side to the waist, with no crease in front or back. The male dress extends only to the knees. The female dress flows with graceful lines from a tight waist down to the heels. Today, the traditional costumes of the Vietnamese have changed. Suit replace for men’s traditional dress. The “ao dai” began under the reign of Nguyen Lord and has been further refined and perfected, wearing many important festivals during the year. The current ao dai is relatively fit to the human body, two flaps extend down to half legs, making the woman’s body show soft, gentle but discreet curves.

At present, the interchange among cultures in the world is expanding, the costumes of Vietnamese people are more abundant and more integrated with world modern fashion, especially among young people in the city.

Some largest festivals of Vietnam

Festival activities are typical folk culture in all regions of Vietnam. In the psychology and sentiment, festivals bring peace to the country, dismissing daily worries, increasing ties and love of nature. As an agricultural country, most of the festivals take place during the “leisure time” – spring and autumn, including some common festivals for the whole country such as the Lunar New Year, Mid-autumn festival, Wandering soul day, Hung Kings anniversary…

Lunar New Year (usually in late January, early February every year):

It is the largest festival in one year. This is an opportunity for the whole family to gather together, enjoy the traditional food, visit and praise the family, friends, colleagues. In common opinion, Tet is the end of the old year – the end of bad things, the fortune to enter the new year with the good things will come. New Year is the most sacred moment; Every family took this moment to do the ceremony, burn incense, worship ancestors. In addition to the New Year’s Eve ceremonies, many customs are still maintained during the Lunar New Year, such as pick buds or young leaves, first-foot, giving lucky money,…

Vu Lan day via ABV

Vu Lan (the seventh lunar month):

Vu Lan is a great celebration, a time for children express the gratitude of parents, grandparents, ancestors who have passed away. This is a valuable and worthy tradition of Vietnamese people. In addition to Vu Lan day, according to Buddhism, lunar July is the days that souls are exposed to the earth. Most of the families prepare offerings to the wandering souls, ghosts. In the lunar seventh month is also the days of forgiving ungrateful, ingrate persons. People prepare meals including porridge, rice burns, multi-cake, candy, fruit … to worship the wandering ghost who have made mistakes when alive and now have no home to go back. The ceremony is also an apology of children to the older for lacking filial piety.

Mid-Autumn Festival (lunar August):

Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Full-moon days is New Year’s Day for children. Children are very welcoming this Day because the elder often gives them toys such as stars, masks, light sticks, pies, ice cream cake … Mid-Autumn confectionery is mainly fruits which are made up of the animal on a tray. At midnight, the atmosphere is very busy with the sound of children playing under the moonlight. Some places also organize games such as lantern displaying, Lion dancing, Dragon Dancing … for the children.

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