Do you know that there are two main calendars used in Vietnam? Although Vietnamese people use the solar calendar for work and international business, the lunar calendar still plays an important role in Vietnamese culture and daily lives. Let me introduce you to the Vietnamese calendar and how you say days, months, etc., in the Vietnamese language.
As mentioned, there are two calendars in Vietnam. So what are they?
The solar calendar was calculated based on the time for the Earth to go around the Sun. It takes 365 days and 6 hours for the Earth to revolve once around the Sun. There are twelve months in the solar calendar, from January to December. Some solar months have 30 days, while some have 31 days. Only February has 28 days in a typical year and 29 days in a leap year. A typical solar year has 365 days. A leap year has 366 days, which happens after every four typical years. The solar calendar is also known as the Gregorian calendar. In Vietnam, people call it 'năm dương lịch'.
The lunar calendar was calculated based on the monthly cycles of the Moon's phases. It usually takes the Moon approximately 29 days and 12 hours to finish one round around the Earth. That is why lunar months have 29 and 30 days. A typical lunar year has 354 days. Every three lunar years, there will be a leap year which has 384 days. In the leap year, there are thirteen months instead of twelve. Vietnamese people call the lunar year 'năm âm lịch.'
Vietnamese people use the lunar calendar, which is as same as the Chinese lunar calendar. This lunar calendar is usually about a month later than the solar calendar. For example, a new lunar year can start in late January or early February of the solar year.
Each lunar year associates with an animal in the Zodiac. There are twelve animals in the Vietnamese Zodiac. People believe that each animal represents the characteristics and sometimes the life of the person born in the year the animal zodiac associates with.
Sometimes, you need to make an appointment with a Vietnamese person or read a poster in Vietnamese. It would be helpful if you know how the days and months are pronounced and written in Vietnamese.
'Day' is translated as 'thứ' in Vietnamese. Here are how native speakers say days in Vietnamese:
In Vietnamese, you can say 'ngày,' which means 'date.' The dates are counting in the same way as when you count numbers in Vietnamese. In addition, when the date is from the first (1st) to the tenth (10th), people usually add the word 'mồng' or 'mùng' in front of the number. Below are some examples:
In the solar calendar, there are twelve months. The Vietnamese word for 'month' is 'tháng.' This is the list of the Vietnamese phrases for months in the Gregorian calendar.
You can read a year like read a number. For example, the year 1987 is read as 'Một nghìn chín trăm tám bảy'. 'Một nghìn' is 1,000. 'Chín trăm' means 900. 'Tám bảy' is 87.
For the years that start with 19xx, people usually say the last two numbers. In the previous example, you can hear Vietnamese people say 'năm tám bảy,' which means the year 1987.
The Vietnamese lunar calendar also has twelve months. The Vietnamese name of the lunar months is as same as the solar months, except for January and December.
The first lunar month, or as know as January in the solar year, is called 'Tháng Giêng' instead of 'Tháng Một.'
The Vietnamese name for the twelfth month of a lunar year is 'Tháng Chạp'. You can also say 'Tháng Mười Hai năm âm lịch'.
Vietnamese people use both the solar calendar and the lunar calendar in their daily life. Therefore, some national holidays fall on specific days in the solar year, while others fall on specific days in the lunar calendar.
People usually don't have to go to work or school during the national holidays. Below are the national holidays in Vietnam in 2021.
The first of January in the Gregorian calendar is a national holiday in Vietnam too. People usually spend a day off with friends or enjoy it their own way.
Tet holiday is when local people celebrate a new lunar year. It takes place at the same time as the Chinese New Year. This is considered the most important holiday for Vietnamese people. They usually spend time with their family, visit their parents if they live apart, visit relatives and go to temples to wish for the best things for the new year. You can read more about the Tet holiday traditions here.
The holiday is based on the lunar calendar, usually from 29 December (Tháng Chạp) to 3 January (Tháng Giêng) in a lunar year. If the holiday falls on a weekend, observation days will be added.
In Vietnamese history, the Hung Kings are considered the first people who established the country. Every year, Vietnamese people have a day off to celebrate the day and show their respect to the Kings. People usually go to temples and join the traditional competitions held in villages.
The event on 30 April 1975 is also known as the Fall of Saigon (the previous name of Ho Chi Minh City). This ended the Vietnam War and marked the day when North Vietnam and South Vietnam were reunited and lead by the Vietnamese Communist Party.
Every year, Vietnamese people celebrate the day by hanging the Vietnam flag in front of their houses. Documentaries are also shown on national television channels.
Vietnamese people will have a day off on the first of May every year. People enjoy the day in various ways.
This holiday reminds Vietnamese people about 2 September 1945, when President Ho Chi Minh read the Declarations of Independence of Vietnam at Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi.
People celebrate Independence Day the same way as they celebrate Liberation Day.
The following special days are no days off in Vietnam, which means people still go to work, but some activities will be carried out to celebrate the days.
I hope you know more about the Vietnamese calendar and the Vietnamese culture from what has been introduced. If you want to learn more about the Vietnamese culture, check out the following articles: