Vietnam is steeped in spirituality, superstitions, and old-age traditions. Throughout Vietnam’s rich and long history, a fascinating cultural heritage has been passed down through generations. The Vietnamese take their traditions seriously, which has contributed to their strong national identity – a blend of traditional and contemporary values. They strongly value family, respect for the community, respect for their ancestors, working hard, and living in harmony with nature. If you’re interested in some of the most unique traditions in Vietnam, this is for you!
7 of the Most Unique Traditions in Vietnam
1. Ancestor worship
In almost every house in Vietnam, You’ll find a small altar dedicated to the ancestors. That’s because Vietnamese ancestors are highly revered and respected. They’re also believed to continue living in another realm and the living is to provide them with they what they need. Offerings consist of food, wine, votive paper, candles, burning incense, and of course, prayer. In return, the ancestors bring good fortune to their loved ones.
2. God of Wealth
Thần Tài, or the God of Wealth, is believed to bring good fortune to businesses. You’ll see the God of Wealth in many shops, restaurants, hotels, and other commercial businesses. Vietnam also celebrates God of Wealth Day, which is the tenth day of the lunar year. Buying gold to celebrate this day is said to bring good fortune and financial success.
3. Visiting pagodas
Many Vietnamese families will flock to pagodas to pray during the first three days of Lunar New Year celebrations. It’s become a valued custom for Vietnamese people. They visit pagodas to pray for the health, fortune, and luck of themselves, family, and loved ones. And in Vietnamese culture, delivering offerings is a way to increase the chances of their wishes coming true. Typical offerings include flowers, incense, and fruit. Not only do they wish for a successful year ahead, but they also reflect upon the year behind them while enjoying the calm and serene setting.
4. Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year, or Tết as it’s known in Vietnam, is a nine-day celebration. Although not everyone celebrates for nine days, they will do it for at least three. It begins on the first day of the Lunisolar calendar, usually at the end of January or the start of February. There are several ancient traditions within Tết itself. New Year’s Day is a big affair, and one of the most important is whoever walks through the door first on the day. The first person to enter the house sets the benchmark for the year to come. If someone with a negative character or an unlucky astrological sign walks through first, it sets a precedent of misfortune for the whole year.
5. Celebrating a baby’s first month
Ngay Day Thang is the day for celebrating a baby’s one-month birthday. The purpose of the celebration is to prepare a feast for twelve ‘fairies’. And according to Vietnamese mythology and folk religion, these fairies teach the baby various skills. Also, during the first month, or even 100 days, the mother is expected to rest indoors. So, it’s also a day to celebrate the baby and the mother. At the Ngay Day Thang, family and friends eat together and offer the mother and the baby money to bring good luck.
6. Cooking a whole boiled chicken
Like many cultures, Vietnamese celebrations strongly revolve around food. Boiling is a whole chicken, including the head and feet, is just one of them. The Vietnamese consider this to be good fortune, especially on Tết. Many people place the boiled chicken at the altar of their ancestors to bring good luck, worship their ancestors, and have a propitious start to the new year.
7. Lucky numbers
This one’s more of a contemporary superstition, but many people in Vietnam customise their phone numbers based on lucky numbers. It’s actually advertised in almost any SIM card shop. While in western culture the number seven is considered lucky, in Vietnam it’s a deeply unlucky number. Therefore, many people choose to remove or exclude the number seven from their phone number. Instead, they add lucky numbers like nines and consecutive eights.