#1 Best Guide: Vietnamese Superstitions!

vietnamese superstitions banner with friday the 13th calendar on the background

Imagine you’re learning Vietnamese, and suddenly, you hear someone mention, “Áo màu xanh lá cây đậy, tài đức bền lâu” (A shirt of green color, wealth and virtue will last forever). You might think, “Wait, what’s a green shirt got to do with anything?” That’s where the magic of Vietnamese superstitions comes in, and they are a big part of the Vietnamese culture. Let’s learn more about these age-old beliefs and the rich local folklore that comprise the traditions of many Vietnamese.

Vietnamese Superstitions

Here’s a look at the most common superstitious beliefs that many people in Vietnam still believe up to this day:

Lucky And Unlucky Numbers

The number 8 is considered extremely lucky because it sounds like “prosper” in Vietnamese (ba). Likewise, the number 9 represents longevity and eternal life, and the number 6 is associated with wealth and success. On the other hand, the number 4, pronounced as “tứ” in Vietnamese, sounds similar to the word for death, “tử.” Consequently, it’s considered a bad omen and extremely unlucky.

Lunar Calendar And Tet (Lunar New Year)

The Lunar New Year, known as “Tet Nguyen Dan,” is the most important holiday in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Lunar Calendar is a roadmap for Tet preparations, guiding everything from cleaning the house to choosing the right flowers. During this festive season, families gather to pay respects to ancestors and indulge in traditional dishes like banh chung (sticky rice cake).

There are numerous taboos during Tet that you’d better steer clear of if you don’t want bad luck to cast a shadow over the celebrations. These include avoiding sweeping the house during the first three days (you might sweep away good fortune), not borrowing or lending money (to prevent debt throughout the year), and refraining from negative words or actions (to ensure a harmonious year).

Ancestor Worship

Ancestor worship is an essential part of Vietnamese culture. It is believed that deceased ancestors continue to have an influential role in the family’s fortunes. Vietnamese households often have an altar dedicated to the ancestors, where offerings of food, incense, and other items are made to show respect and seek blessings.

Feng Shui

Feng Shui, an ancient Chinese practice, has firmly planted its roots in Vietnamese culture. It’s all about arranging living spaces to align with the flow of energy, or “qi,” to promote harmony, good deeds, and good fortune.

vietnamese superstitious ritual of honoring ancestors

Daily Life Superstitions By Vietnamese People

Superstitions play a significant role in the cultural beliefs and practices of Vietnamese people. Passed down through generations, these superstitions are deeply ingrained in daily life and often shape people’s behavior and decision-making. Here are some examples of common superstitions observed by Vietnamese people in their day-to-day lives:

Lucky And Unlucky Foods

During the Vietnamese New Year, Tet, you’ll find families feasting on dishes with symbolic meanings. Among them, fish is considered particularly lucky because the Vietnamese word for fish, “cá,” sounds like “prosper.” So, expect to find fish dishes on most celebratory occasions.

When it comes to dining, it’s not just about what you eat but also how you eat it. For example, it’s customary to leave some food on your plate to symbolize abundance and never stick your chopsticks upright in your bowl, as it resembles incense sticks at a funeral.

Marriage And Love Superstitions

Compatibility is crucial, and some families consult fortune tellers to ensure a harmonious match. The birth year of each of the potential partners is analyzed, and if there are unfavorable signs, the union might be discouraged. The most common method of matchmaking in Vietnamese culture is through the practice of “xem bói,” which involves a fortune teller analyzing astrological and numerological aspects of the couple.

One common superstition in Vietnamese weddings is the belief that rain on the wedding day is a sign of good luck, symbolizing a strong bond. However, it’s crucial to avoid anything associated with bad luck, such as the number 4, seeing a black cat, and more.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

When it comes to pregnancy, pregnant women must be cautious of their actions. A pregnant woman should avoid activities that might bring bad luck to the unborn child. For instance, she must not attend funerals and visit sick family members. This will prevent the baby from inheriting negative energy.

Naming a baby is also considered a serious business because the name is believed to significantly impact the child’s destiny. Parents often consult fortune tellers to choose a name that aligns with the child’s birthdate and the balance of five elements. It’s not uncommon for children to undergo a “doi ten” ceremony, where their name is changed if it’s believed to bring bad luck.

Death And Funerals

In Vietnamese culture, death is not the end; it’s a transition to another realm. It’s common to have an altar dedicated to ancestors at home, where offerings are made regularly to ensure their well-being in the afterlife.

Funerals are a solemn affair in Vietnam, and superstitions play a significant role. The deceased’s spirit must be treated with respect, and there are specific customs and rituals to follow, such as the burning of joss paper and the practice of wearing white clothing as a symbol of mourning.

lucky fish wind chime

Vietnamese Words Related To Superstitions

To help you master the language while learning more about how to reverse bad luck or shoo away evil spirits, here are 10 Vietnamese words and phrases related to superstitions in Vietnam:

EnglishVietnameseVietnamese Pronunciation
SuperstitionSự mê tínSoo may teen
LuckyMay mắnMy man
UnluckyBất hạnhBaht hung
FortuneVận mayVun my
Bad luckXui xẻoSoo-ee say-oh
TalismanVật phong thủyVat fong too-ee
RitualNghi lễNee lay
TabooLệnh cấmLaynh kahm
OmenDấu hiệuDow hee-yew
Black catMèo đenMeow dehn

Learn Vietnamese With Ling

As we wrap up our journey, remember that learning more about superstitions can deepen your understanding of the language and the people. If you’re eager to explore further and enhance your Vietnamese language skills, I encourage you to download the Ling language learning application, available on both the Play Store and App Store. Ling provides an immersive and engaging platform for language enthusiasts to dive deeper into the world of Vietnamese superstitions, helping you connect with this vibrant culture in a meaningful way. Give it a try now!

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