Official and unofficial Vietnamese holidays and festivals
Vietnam prefers not to scatter short weekends throughout the year, but to rest half a month at a time. The dates of many holidays are constantly changing because of the use of the lunar calendar.
If a holiday falls on a weekend, the following Monday may also be marked as a holiday. Some foreign offices and embassies may take extra time off, but stores and restaurants often remain open to the public. The most important holiday of the year called Tet (Vietnamese New Year) entails long interruptions for many companies, so plan your trip carefully.
About half of the official holidays the Vietnamese celebrate according to the Gregorian calendar and the other half according to the lunar calendar. Most public holidays commemorate important historical events and cultural values of the Vietnamese. The most important ones are closely related to the veneration of ancestors and are aimed at inviting the dead to the house for treats. In Vietnam, there are days when people visit the graves of those who died during the U.S.-Vietnam War. They bless the dead, cut grass around the graves, and leave flowers and donations.
The Vietnamese make extensive use of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar to determine the days of festivals. Most festivals are held according to the dates set by the moon. The lunar calendar is divided into 12 lunar months. For example, 2018 is equal to the year 4716 on the lunar calendar. The Vietnamese New Year Tet begins when the sun enters the constellation of Aquarius. In Vietnam, there are so-called auspicious and unfavorable days. The 5th, 14th and 23rd days of the lunar months are considered bad days on which it is better to do nothing and be quieter than the grass. Don’t be surprised if on these days your Vietnamese acquaintances refuse to meet you.
New Year (January 1st)
Although most festivals and traditional cultural events in Vietnam are based on the lunar calendar, the Christian calendar is also widely used. As in most countries of the world, the Vietnamese celebrate the World New Year on the first of January. This day is considered a public holiday, so all government offices as well as offices and banks are usually closed.
Tet Holiday, or Lunar New Year (late January to mid-February)
Tet is one of the most important holidays in Vietnam. Literally translated as the holiday of the first morning. Although Tet only takes up the first three days of the lunar calendar, Vietnamese people prefer to rest for about a month. Tet plays an important role in Vietnamese religious beliefs, and it is customary to prepare for it well in advance.
To leave all failures and sorrows in the old year, the Vietnamese are actively engaged in cleaning, rubbing dishes to shine, sometimes even repainting houses, decorating them with a kumquat tree, branches of peach blossoms and many other bright plants.
It is also customary among the Vietnamese to take care of the altar of ancestors, decorating it with five kinds of fruit. People buy new clothes and shoes, try to pay off loans and reconcile with their loved ones. The Vietnamese believe that what they do on Tet Eve will determine the entire following year. They smile a lot and try to do good deeds.
On the Lunar New Year, yellow and red colors dominate everywhere in the streets, in clothing, signage, and decorations. It is believed that they bring good luck. During Tet, it is customary to give each other gifts and money in red envelopes. During the long celebration (5 to 9 days) may not work cafes and restaurants, many tourist services will also be unavailable.
King Hung Memorial Day (10th day of the third lunar month)
According to historical records and Vietnamese traditions, the Hung Kings were the founders of Vietnam. The celebration touches on themes such as: piety, obedience of sons, ancestor worship and patriotism. For many people, King Hung Memorial Day is not only a joyous occasion but also an immersion in traditional Vietnamese culture and values.
Reunification Day (April 30)
April 30, 1975 is the day that marks the fall of Saigon, the surrender of the South Vietnamese government, the end of the war and the liberation of South Vietnam. It is a landmark date in history when the South and the North were reunited. On this day, you’ll see crowds of festively dressed people strolling by, with flags flying over every house. Traffic is usually blocked for the festive morning parade. In central parts of the city, many streets become pedestrianized. The Vietnamese government helps to maintain the significance of the date, although financial constraints often make mass celebrations rather restrained.
International Labor Day – May 1
Labor Day is considered a public holiday. It is celebrated on the first day of May, right after Reunification Day. Usually, these two holidays are celebrated together. There are marches, parades, and performances.
National Day, or Independence Day (September 2)
On this day, people celebrate Vietnam’s declaration of independence from France. There are speeches, parades, fireworks, and other celebrations all over the country It is a very patriotic holiday, with national flags visible everywhere and large posters of Ho Chi Minh, known here as “Uncle Ho,” adorn city walls.
On September 2, 1945, in Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi, President Ho Chi Minh officially declared Vietnam free of French colonial forces. Since then, the country has commemorated the event every year. Some people take the opportunity to travel, while others prefer to reflect on this historic event by visiting Ba Dinh Square and Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. A large parade demonstrating the achievements of the military and police services takes place in the square on this day. Along with groups of people dressed in traditional Vietnamese clothing, the military marches past the granite mausoleum that houses the embalmed remains of revolutionary leader “Uncle Ho.
Independence Day is an important historical, political and cultural event for any country, and Vietnam is no exception. During World War II, Ho Chi Minh’s Communist League, better known as the Viet Minh, controlled much of the country. In mid-August 1945, Ho Chi Minh called for a general uprising and declared independence on September 2. Large crowds gathered in Ba Dinh Square. It seemed that French colonial rule, which had lasted more than eighty years, was over. A few months later, the French returned again, and Ho Chi Minh and his troops fled into the northern jungle. From there they fought for another eight years before France surrendered. This happened at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954.
Then the Americans came into the country, and Vietnam had to fight another long, bloody war, ending on April 30, 1975. North and South united under the Communist government.
Teacher’s Day (November 20)
At the end of autumn, the Vietnamese celebrate Teacher’s Day. It must be said that teachers in Asia have a special attitude toward them. In China, for example, the word “laoshi” (teacher) is pronounced with special respect by both adults and children.
In Asia, teachers are considered to be one of the most honorable professions, and from childhood parents teach their children to obey the teacher, and if the teacher scolds them for something, they should show humility and accept criticism. The teacher is always right.
In Vietnam, Teacher’s Day is celebrated on November 20. Solemn and fun. Anyway, see for yourself:
Birthday celebrations in Vietnam
According to the lunar Chinese calendar, when a child is born, he or she is one year old. This is not very common, but still some Vietnamese may adhere to this tradition. For example, if a child is seven years old, they may tell you that he or she has turned eight. This is called the “Vietnamese” or “real” age.
The time, day and year of birth have astrological significance. The Vietnamese use them to predict a child’s character, talents, and future. According to tradition, they count the age from the first day of the new year in which the person was born. This rule works even if the child was born on the eve of the outgoing year.
As a result, as the new year begins, his age will be about two years, even if he is really only two days old. This may be hard to understand from the first reading. However, all the peripeteia with age counting does not mean that the day of physiological birth is not celebrated. It is often an occasion for special prayer and invocation of the ancestors. In almost every non-Christian home one can find the so-called “shelf of the gods” on which they put extra food and flowers on the day of birth. On this occasion the Vietnamese may gather their closest friends for dinner.
Weddings among wealthy Vietnamese families often turn into flaunting their money. For some time, the government has even attempted to limit this. For example, the Prime Minister of Vietnam once asked the authorities to ensure that weddings, funerals, and other events were not too flashy. He asked government officials to set an example for the rest of the nation, but his wishes were not much heeded. Despite the desire for simple ceremonies, Vietnam encourages its citizens to marry.
During family events, about twelve people gather around one table. Large dinners are prepared for weddings, funerals, and festivals. Female guests often bring food and help the hosts with the cooking.
The Vietnamese holiday table consists of món man, the salty dish, and món ngot, the dessert. All food on the table, with the exception of personal plates of rice, is used collectively. The dishes are not served one after the other, but all are placed on the table at the same time. The main feast consists of 10 dishes: glass noodles, manga (bamboo shoots), meatballs, stews, Vietnamese sausage, boiled chicken or duck, Vietnamese salad and fried dishes.
Traditional festivals in Vietnam
Festivals in Vietnam are usually dedicated to gods, national history heroes or mythical characters. All of them, in one way or another, fought against foreign invaders, as well as against the hardships of life and natural disasters.
Festivals represent the strength of the commune, the village, the local region and even the entire nation. During the festivals, traditional moral values are transmitted to the younger generation. It is a return to the roots and a great opportunity to express one’s sorrow and anxiety by asking for help from the gods. The festivals are most often held in spring and fall, when the climate is especially favorable.
Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival
The Bai Dinh Pagoda Spring Festival is the perfect occasion for a pilgrimage to the imperial capital of Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh Province. During the festival days, there is a cordiality of fellowship and reverence for the elders. Groups of people can be seen deliberately climbing up the slopes of the mountains to symbolize life and spiritual journey.
Huong Pagoda Festival
This is one of the greatest Buddhist festivals in northern Vietnam. Huong Pagoda Festival plays an important role in the spiritual life of the people, particularly for Vietnamese Buddhists. Inside Huong Pagoda, visitors worship Buddha and pray for their wishes to come true. There are cultural events, sports, boat races, rock climbing, singing folk songs, romantic trips to caves, ceremonies, etc.
About 20 km from Hanoi, in Bac Ninh Province, there is Lim Village, which is the home of Quan Ho folk songs. The festival is celebrated by locals on the 12th, 13th day of the first lunar month and aims to promote the tradition of singing Quan Ho. Every year, thousands of tourists come to the Lim Festival and enjoy singing by performers in traditional costumes.
Vu Lan Festival, or Mother’s Day.
This holiday is also called Trung Nguyen. On this day, the gates of the afterlife open and the souls of the dead come to their former homes to see their families. Unburied souls wander among the living in search of mercy and compassion. The festival takes place on the 15th day of the seventh month according to the lunar calendar. On this day, Vietnamese families gather together to express reverence, love and gratitude to their ancestors. People who have lost their mothers wear white robes and those whose mothers are alive wear red. This is a unique custom in Vietnamese culture.
July is the month of wandering ghosts.
In many Asian countries, the lunar month of July is considered a month of bad luck and curses from ungodly souls. It is believed that in the first half of the month, the gates of hell are open and ghosts roam freely on Earth. The spirits of people forgotten by their relatives or who have died without a proper burial wander alone, casting curses on all who meet them on their way. Many Vietnamese may sincerely blame ghosts for their misfortunes. In July, they often abandon large-scale plans, trips and undertakings.
Hungry Ghost Festival
This is perhaps the most notable event of the month. Vietnamese families prepare meals throughout the day. At noon they offer food to the ancestors, and after sunset they leave it for the lost souls. Monks on this day ask Buddha to forgive all souls who have committed sins in human bodies and become hungry ghosts.
Celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, when the moon reaches its maximum visibility and brightness in the sky. According to tradition, children are given lanterns, treats and funny masks. During the celebration, Vietnamese worship the earth god, there are literary, artistic events, as well as dragon sacrifices, dragon boat races and lantern fairs.
This is a traditional festival in honor of the mythical hero Saint-Giong, who fought against foreign enemies. During the celebration, there is a demonstration of ancient martial arts, a spirit of patriotism, and a sense of the freedom and indomitable will of the Vietnamese people. The Giong Festival is held simultaneously throughout the northern part of Vietnam, but the most typical celebrations are held at Phu Dong and Soc Temples in Hanoi. If it rains at the end of the festival, the Vietnamese regard it as a blessing of the Saint Giong for a good harvest.
The annual traditional festival for fishermen is held in early October about 50 km southeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Village elders pay their respects to the whales on behalf of all the people and also commemorate the fishermen who died at sea. The worship is a procession to the whale temple. The procession then moves to the sea to greet the whales. The ceremony often involves a fleet of five hundred boats.
What about Western holidays?
Christmas in Vietnam
Christmas in Vietnam is of interest only to the relatively small Catholic community and to shopkeepers who take the opportunity to make money.
Many Catholics left Vietnam after the French colonizers left back in 1954. Ho Chi Minh City has a pink-brick Notre Dame cathedral built in the late 19th century. It celebrates the birth of Christ and even allows people to listen to the service while sitting on scooters in the temple square. Even Vietnam has a cathedral.
Christmas and Gregorian New Year in Vietnam are, above all, lavish corporate parties for foreign companies for their clients, where there are loud speeches about cooperation and business.
On this day, more people than ever buy roses, boxes of chocolates and perfume. All of this is in a communist state where a strong work ethic and commitment to the nation have always taken precedence over displays of affection. Young people, mostly students, purchase Valentine’s cards, the cost of which is often equivalent to most Vietnamese people’s day’s wages.
Vietnam has as many as two women’s holidays – International Women’s Day (March and Vietnamese Women’s Day (October 20); they have even built a Women’s Museum in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to honor women.
March 8 is very similar to the one held in Russia. A huge number of flower stalls appear on the main streets, the prices of any of them go up 5 times. But men still buy beautiful bouquets to please their ladies.
By the way, on a normal day the price for 1 rose in Nha Trang is 5 000 VND (15 rubles), but keep in mind that despite this you will get a terrible bouquet (most probably), because the Vietnamese florists are disgusting.
For those who want to buy real works of art, so that it was not only pleasant, but also beautiful, we advise to contact our friends – Art Bouquet (link to group Vkontakte).
Bouquet – 1001 Night Flower Teddy Bear Bouquet Love Anthurium – a bouquet for men
Vietnam has both foreign holidays, which entered the culture under the influence of fashion, and its own, national ones. Watching both is a pleasure, and it is even more enjoyable to participate in them, immersing yourself as much as possible in a foreign country’s culture. Be open, and you’ll learn a lot of new and interesting things!
Write in the comments if you’ve had any experience of meeting a holiday in a foreign country. Which cultural tradition is the most memorable to you?
Since 2013, I have been living with my wife in different countries, including China, the Philippines, the USA, and Vietnam. I photograph and write about travel blogs.
Features of event tourism in Vietnam
Vietnam is a wonderful and distinctive country that is always happy to welcome guests. Every year, thousands of tourists come here for an unforgettable experience and a bright holiday. The country often hosts interesting festivals, which have no analogues in the world.
Vietnam’s official holidays
Features of event tourism in Vietnam
It is worth noting that the dates of holidays often change, as the Vietnamese use the lunar calendar. That is why you should find out in advance the dates of various events dedicated to a particular event. There are official holidays in the country every year. If a holiday falls on a day off, on Monday residents are entitled to rest. Some of Vietnam’s most colorful holidays include: – Tet, or New Year in Vietnamese. This is probably the main holiday of the country, which is celebrated here on a grand scale. The date of the Vietnamese New Year varies each year. But the holiday usually falls at the end of January – beginning of February. Before the festivities, it is customary to thoroughly clean the house and decorate it with yellow flowers. A blossoming mandarin tree is considered a symbol of the New Year. The Vietnamese believe that it brings happiness and prosperity to the house. It is customary to celebrate the New Year in a close family circle. The celebration lasts for several days with merry street performances and noisy parties. – Independence Day. This official holiday is celebrated on September 2. On this day, people come out to demonstrate. And as soon as it gets dark, fireworks go off everywhere in honor of Vietnam’s declaration of independence. – Victory Day. This great holiday is very important to all Vietnamese. On April 30, in all cities of the country are festive processions. The streets are decorated with flags. People go to temples to pray for all the dead. In the evening, fireworks are set off. April 30 is declared a day off in the country. – Holiday of Autumn. An important event in the life of all Vietnamese. The date of the celebration depends on the lunar calendar. Usually it is celebrated at the end of September. This holiday commemorates the end of the harvest. People decorate their homes with homemade lanterns of various shapes. On the streets there are dishes with fresh fruit, which everyone can enjoy.
Traditional festivals in Vietnam
Features of event tourism in Vietnam
The Vietnamese love festivals, which is probably why they have so many national festivals. Some festivals are held annually, others are held much less frequently. For example, the popular Flower Festival, which is held in Dalat every two years. – The Flower Festival is held in the middle of winter. It is a very bright, unforgettable spectacle. The festival participants are not only local amateur gardeners, but also citizens of other countries. Everyone who is lucky enough to attend the festival can not only admire the colorful flowerbeds, but also buy bulbs of plants they liked. – Fruit Festival takes place during the summer months in Ho Chi Minh City. This is a bright and cheerful festival with noisy performances, and tasting of exotic fruits. You can buy your favorite fruits at the fair. On the day of the festival, the prices of everyone’s favorite delicacies are very low. – Fireworks Festival takes place in Vietnam every year in mid-spring. It lasts almost a month. During this time guests of the festival offer not only to admire the colorful fireworks, but also to try national cuisine, to take part in various contests and drawings, visit the popular Vietnamese artists.
Family celebrations of the Vietnamese
Features of event tourism in Vietnam
Not every tourist will be lucky enough to visit a family holiday in Vietnam. But still travelers are interested in how to celebrate birthdays and weddings in Vietnamese families. It is worth noting that the Vietnamese do not like lavish ceremonies, and celebrate their family holidays rather modestly. However, the rich people of the country sometimes celebrate lavish weddings, flaunting their countless riches. In general, the party is usually attended by 12 to 25 people. All invited women must bring some prepared dish to help the hostess. On the table at once put all the dishes, including sweets. Portioned give only rice, everything else can be taken from the common table. Event tourism in Vietnam enjoys great popularity. And it is not surprising. After all, Vietnam is one of those countries that are very fond of noisy and colorful holidays and festivals.