Learning Vietnamese is about more than just mastering the language. It’s also about diving into the vibrant culture of Vietnam. Vietnamese culture has a long history and is a beautiful blend of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, all intertwined with the country’s history and traditions.
From the colorful festivals and celebrations to the delicious cuisine and traditional clothing, Vietnamese culture is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s learning to make traditional dishes like pho or exploring the legends and folklore of Vietnam, immersing yourself in Vietnamese traditions is a fun and exciting adventure.
So, embrace the culture, learn the language, and experience the beauty of Vietnam firsthand through this article, all about Vietnamese traditions! Make visiting Vietnam a memorable trip by learning about its traditions, festivals, and more!
Vietnamese Tradition | Linking Traditional And Contemporary Values
Explaining The Differences Between Western Countries And Vietnamese Society
Vietnamese culture and traditions are vastly different from Western culture in many ways. For starters, family and community are at the heart of Vietnamese traditional and contemporary values. It is common for Vietnamese families to have several generations living under a single roof!
Respect for elders and authority figures is deeply ingrained in Vietnamese society, with ancestor worship being a defining trait of Vietnamese culture. In contrast, Western culture tends to emphasize individualism and personal achievement more.
Another significant difference is the importance placed on Vietnamese customs and traditions. In Vietnamese culture, traditions are passed down from generation to generation. As a result, they are deeply rooted in the country’s history and folklore.
In contrast, Western culture tends to be more focused on progress and forward movement, with less emphasis placed on preserving the past.
Vietnamese food and cuisine are other areas where the two cultures differ significantly. Vietnamese cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and unique cooking techniques, emphasizing rice, light seasoning, and herbs. In contrast, Western cuisine often includes heavier dishes and indulgent flavors.
While many Vietnamese people and other cultures have much in common, everyone’s roots and daily lives are vastly different. From how family members are treated and how Vietnamese etiquette changes depending on how old someone is, there’s much to learn about each other.
Festivals And Celebrations In Vietnamese Culture
Tết Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year)
Vietnamese lunar new year, or Tết, is the most important holiday in Vietnam, celebrated by more than a billion people each year (worldwide, that is!). It is celebrated on the first day of the Lunar New Year, which varies every year – either in late January or early February. Chinese culture is ingrained within Vietnamese traditions, influencing even their modern holidays!
People celebrate Tết by making it a joyful family reunion, exchanging gifts, and decorating their homes. They also visit temples and pagodas to pray for good luck and fortune in the coming year. People enjoy traditional Lunar New Year dishes and snacks, such as banh chung and banh tet.
Tết Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival)
The Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Tet Trung Thu, is a significant event in Vietnam that falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, usually in September. The festival celebrates the harvest season and the full moon, which symbolize abundance, happiness, and prosperity.
During this festival, children carry colorful lanterns in various shapes, sizes, and designs while parading through the streets, singing, and dancing. Bánh trung thu (mooncakes), a traditional pastry with different fillings, are a must-have during the festival, as families gather to enjoy them while admiring the full moon.
Giỗ Tổ Hùng Vương (Hung Kings Temple Festival)
The Giỗ Tổ Hùng Vương (Hung Kings Temple Festival) is an important annual celebration in Vietnam. The ritual takes place regularly, held on the 10th day of the third lunar month. During the festival, millions of people pilgrimage to the temple to offer prayers and incense to their ancestors.
The festival displays Vietnamese culture and national pride. It is a time for people to remember their origins and express their respect and gratitude to the first King of Vietnam, King Hung. Celebrations include food, flowers, and incense offerings, as well as traditional music and dance performances.
Ancestors Death Anniversary
In Southeast Asia, only Vietnam has a yearly ancestors’ death anniversary celebration. Traditionally, families would only observe the anniversary on the actual day of death. Still, the government has standardized it to be held on the 10th day of the third month of the lunar calendar (which happens to fall in April).
On the day, family members gather to enjoy a big ol’ banquet and offer rice to the soul of the deceased. It’s a time to come together, celebrate life, and show love and respect for those who have passed on. Plus, it’s believed humans still exist in soul parts after passing away, so you’re feeding their souls, too! How cool is that?
Traditional Vietnamese Clothing
The traditional Vietnamese clothing, áo dài, (spelled in the west as ao dai) is a long dress traditionally worn by Vietnamese women. Usually made of silk, this dress is buttoned down the front and worn with trousers. It originated in the 18th century when Lord Nguyen Phúc Khoát of Hue decreed that both men and women at his court should wear trousers and a gown with buttons down the front.
This outfit was described as the áo dài (long shirt) by writer Lê Quý Dôn. Áo dài was extremely popular in South Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s and is still appreciated by young and old Vietnamese women.
It is commonly worn on special occasions such as Tết and other celebrations. It is also a popular choice for formal events by many Vietnamese women, such as wedding ceremonies!
Ever wonder what the straw hats the Vietnamese were called? It’s called the nón lá, a conical hat typically made from straw or palm leaves. It is believed to have originated from Vietnam’s fascinating cultural heritage of rice farming. So, the legend goes, during a torrential downpour of rain that lasted weeks, a farmer had the idea to make a hat out of straw to protect himself from the rain.
This hat eventually became known as the nón lá and has been worn since ancient times to protect the wearer from the sunshine and rain of Vietnam’s tropical monsoon climate. It has been around since the 13th century during the Tran Dynasty and is worn by men and the opposite sex.
Why Traditional Clothing In Vietnam Is Still Significant
Besides being part of its national identity, Vietnam has a long history when it comes to its traditional clothing. In feudal Vietnam, clothing was a significant sign of social status, with strict dress codes varying from region to region. In addition, the traditional clothing represented the lifestyle of Vietnam’s past, something the country holds on to as a source of pride.
Today, traditional Vietnamese clothing is still worn, particularly during festivals and special occasions. It is a way of preserving the country’s rich cultural heritage and identity. So if you’re lucky enough to attend a Vietnamese festival, you might catch a glimpse of these beautiful, traditional outfits!
Myths And Folklore In Traditional Vietnamese Culture
The Legend Of Sword Lake
The Legend of the Sword Lake is a Vietnamese folklore that dates back to the Ming dynasty. According to the legend, a fisherman named Lê Thận from Chu River in Thanh Hóa Province hauled up his fishing net one night and found a sword inside. He then presented the sword to the warrior king Le Loi, who was fighting against Chinese domination.
The king was then gifted the sword by a giant turtle living deep beneath Hoan Kiem Lake’s crystalline waters. The blade was said to have magical powers that could change fate. The lake was then named Hoan Kiem Lake, which translates to “Lake of the Returned Sword” or “Lake of the Restored Sword.”
The Legend Of The Trung Sisters
The Trung Sisters are a legendary pair of sisters from Vietnam who are celebrated as national heroines for their rebellion against Chinese rule in the year 40 AD. According to folklore, the sisters led their followers into battle atop two giant war elephants and are often depicted in paintings riding these elephants.
These sisters are celebrated each year in Vietnam on the anniversary of their deaths in honor of their courage and sacrifice. They are also regarded as powerful symbols of the country’s resistance and freedom.
Traditional Music And Dance In Vietnam
Ca trù is an ancient Vietnamese musical tradition that dates back to the 15th century, widespread among the royal palace and aristocrats. It was traditionally performed in communal houses, inns, and private homes.
In 2009, Ca trù singing was inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Urgent Safeguarding List. Since then, the status and practice of ca trù have been revived and innovated. The entire country’s effort toward protecting and celebrating its heritage is admirable!
Hát Xẩm, also known as “blind wanderers’ music,” is an ancient Vietnamese folk music tradition that dates back to the 13th century. The performers of Hát Xẩm are typically blind musicians who wander from place to place with a small wooden box and a stick, playing and singing songs of everyday life, love, and hardship.
The lyrics of Hát Xẩm songs are often improvised and reflect the experiences and emotions of the performers. In recent years, the Vietnamese government has made efforts to preserve and promote Hát Xẩm as a cultural heritage, eliminating the Vietnamese conception that it is a dying art.
Various Folk Dances
Vietnamese folk dances are a vital part of the country’s culture and heritage. The most popular dances include the Fan Dance, Lantern Dance, Lotus Dance, Flag Dance, Platter Dance, Candle Dance, Incense Dance, Hat Dance, Scarf Dance, Lion Dance, Ribbon Dance, and Water Puppetry.
These dances are often performed during festivals such as the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival, as they symbolize prosperity, longevity, and happiness. For example, the Lion-Dragon Dance is a popular traditional dance performed throughout Vietnam, and the Wai Khru is a ritual dance performed before martial arts contests.
Immerse Yourself In Vietnamese Culture With Ling App
Besides learning about sacred sites, and famous tourist sites and looking at the daily life of people from Ho Chi Minh City, how else can you immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture? By learning Vietnamese, of course!
The Ling app provides a way for you to learn Vietnamese or any of the 60+ languages we offer through expertly crafted lessons, all built to make learning fun, memorable, and exciting!