The cultural imprint of a certain region or country is clearly shown through the annual public holidays and festivals. In Vietnam, every year, many important holidays take place across the country, some of them are the official national holidays.
A few others are not on the list of national holidays, but the locals still welcome and consider them an integral part of the cultural life. This article will introduce specifically about those major holidays and festivals to know before you travel to explore Vietnam.
Firstly, you can have a quick look at the table of Vietnamese holidays. Then jump to any event you want to read more about to know how the locals welcome it.
|Holidays in Vietnam
|Lunar New Year
|31 Jan & 1,2,3 Feb
|20, 21, 22, 23 Feb
|Hung King’s death anniversary
|Unification Holiday April 30
|International Labor Day 1/5
Official National Holidays in Vietnam
Official Vietnamese Holidays include vital holidays that the Vietnamese government recognizes as a festival of the whole country. During these holidays, the government allows workers across the country to take paid leave. Cultural and welcoming activities will be held in many places for people to participate in fun and entertainment.
Current recognized official holidays include:
1. New Year Holiday
The New Year takes place at the beginning of the solar calendar year like all other countries in the world. On New Year, Vietnamese workers have an official holiday, which falls on January 1 every year.
Although this is a national holiday, the New Year does not carry the traditional cultural imprint of the Vietnamese people. Therefore, across the country, in addition to activities to welcome the new year organized by the government such as:
- Fireworks display: takes place in big cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Nha Trang, Can Tho.
- Welcoming cultural program organized by the local government
- Some collective activities in clubs, youth unions, student unions.
The popular does not hold any traditional rituals during this New Year. They spend the whole day off for entertainment, such as meeting friends, organizing snacks at home, going out shopping, or going with their family to the park or amusement park near their living area.
2. Lunar New Year Holidays
For Vietnamese people, the Lunar New Year is the biggest festival of the year. The Lunar New Year is also known as Tet for short. Tet contains the end of the old lunar year and the first three days of the new year. It usually falls between the end of January and the end of February of the solar calendar.
Entering the last month of the lunar year, people begin to talk a lot about Tet. The closer to the end of the year, the more bustling the atmosphere of preparing for Tet.
From the 20th of the 12th lunar month onwards, people spend more time cleaning and decorating their houses to prepare for the new year.
Fresh flowers from the gardeners come to the center for sale with countless brilliant colors.
The rituals related to saying goodbye to the old year, preparing to welcome the new year, such as organizing Ong Tao (Kitchen Gods) ceremony, the year-end party appeared until Tet.
According to government regulations, Tet also covers the official holidays when workers get the longest rest, an average of 7 to 9 days.
During Tet, a lot of cultural activities take place everywhere. The government will often organize fireworks on New Year’s Eve in many areas across the country. Cultural and artistic activities from folk to modern simultaneously show vibrantly in both rural and urban regions.
Tet is also an opportunity for those who work far away to return to their homeland. All family members have a chance to reunite. Vietnamese people spend most of their time in the first three days of the new year to remember their ancestors, visit relatives and close friends. They also pay attention to the temple ceremony at the beginning of the year to pray for health and good luck to themselves and their families.
On Lunar New Year’s Days, the woman in the family will cook plenty of tasty dishes, prepare fresh and beautiful cakes, jams, and fruits to offer to ancestors, and entertain relatives and friends.
Tet is an opportunity for children to show off their bright and radiant new clothes. They also receive lucky money from adults with the meaning of wishing the child to be healthy, fast-growing, and obedient in the new year.
In addition, Tet also gives people the opportunity to join family vacation tours. Therefore, the attractions and entertainment in the country on this occasion are always crowded and bustling.
If you are in Vietnam during Tet, you will notice that many worshiping ceremonies happen throughout the three days of Tet. At the same time, you will also feel the joy of the people when the new year begins. There are really plenty of cultural colors and emotions of the Vietnamese people that are displayed realistically and vividly during Tet.
3. Hung King’s death anniversary
Hung King’s death anniversary happens on the tenth day of the third lunar month every year. This anniversary means remembrance of the first kings who founded Vietnam. At the same time, it shows gratitude to the generations of their fathers who have built the country.
The incense offering ceremony will officially take place at the temple of King Hung in Viet Tri city, Phu Tho province, Vietnam.
On this day, according to custom, people across the three regions will organize together to cook the most delicious Banh Chung and Banh Day. Then nominate a person with enough prestige and responsibility to bring back the land of Phu Tho ancestor to offer to King Hung, praying for national peace and prosperity.
From that meaning, the Vietnamese have the saying “no matter who goes back and forth, remember the anniversary of the death anniversary on the tenth of the third month”.
Today, the preparation of Banh Chung and Banh Day is no longer difficult, nor does it require too many people to participate. However, this national holiday on the tenth of the third lunar month is a reminder to all Vietnamese people of their roots, inculcating the meaning of drinking water, remembering the nation’s source.
On the death anniversary of Hung Vuong, Vietnamese workers will have an official holiday. Today, except for the people of Phu Tho and surrounding areas who spend a lot of time participating in the incense offering ceremony at Hung Temple, most people in Vietnam will rest and have fun according to their own needs. A few light parties at home, short meetings, or relaxing at a park or nearby amusement park are common choices for many people.
4. Unification Holiday April 30 and International Labor Day 1/5
The national occasion to celebrate the victory day 30/4 is held quite solemnly every year in Vietnam. This is a great victory holiday to commemorate the historical milestone in 1975 when Vietnam completely escaped the war and reunified the country.
On that day, the public often come to the Independence Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, where a famous image of a Vietnamese tank came over the gate that which signed the end of Vietnam war.
Associated with April 30, International Labor Day May 1 is also an official national holiday in Vietnam. Therefore, employees will be entitled to full paid rest during these two holidays.
On the victory day, people will hang the Vietnamese flag in front of the gate to show their national pride and patriotism.
Many localities and authorities will organize fireworks. Along with that, art activities perform quite lively.
Usually, the holidays of April 30 and May 1 have a long number of days off, especially in years where the holiday comes immediately before or after the weekend. This is an opportunity for short trips. Therefore, these days, the attractions and tourist places in Vietnam to visit become quite crowded.
Many people also take advantage of the holidays to return to their hometown to visit their relatives or simply organize a rest and play at home.
5. Independence Day Sep 2
A vital official holiday in Vietnam on Sep 2 is also known as Independence Day. This is a great occasion for the Vietnamese people to recall and show respect for the day when President Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence at Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi on the 2nd of Sep, 1945. This activity officially gave birth to the Vietnam Socialist Republic. And since then, Sep 2 has always been a day containing the great national pride of the Vietnamese people.
Independence Day celebrations take place enthusiastically across the country. Many artistic and cultural activities are held in all localities. The national flag is hung at the gate of every house, office, and street.
Employees are officially rested for two days on September 2 and one day immediately before or after depending on the specific calendar of each year.
The official celebration is solemnly organized in Ba Dinh Square with the participation of a large number of people and the Vietnamese government leaders. A solemn military parade was also held here.
Fireworks will be launched on the evening of September 2 in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and some localities across the country.
There are not any traditional ceremonies held on this occasion so people pay a lot of attention to the commemorative activities organized by the government.
Gaming attractions become crowded. People spend time relaxing in places far from the city center or returning to their hometown. Many family parties are also held.
Bonus: Other holidays, not official but rich in culture
In addition to the official national holidays recognized by the government, Vietnamese people also have many other important holidays associated with their cultural life.
In particular, it is necessary to mention the holidays that attract the attention of most people, such as:
6. Tet Doan Ngo (Mid-year Tet)
Tet Doan Ngo takes place on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. There are different theories about the appearance of this festival. Over time, the origin of the Tet Doan Ngo no longer attracts the attention of the public. Instead, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month becomes an important occasion for everyone in the family to gather together and prepare offerings to worship ancestors and grandparents.
On this day, children and grandchildren always try to return to their grandparents and parents as a way of showing respect to their parents. Everyone organizes to cook many delicious dishes to offer to ancestors. In which, according to custom, ash cake, fresh fruit, Vietnamse che (sweet soup) and duck meat are indispensable dishes.
In addition to worshiping rituals and festivals within the family, there are almost no artistic and cultural activities held on the community scale during this day.
Mid-year Tet is not an official holiday in Vietnam, so the workers still go to work. However, many people rest without payment to organize the worshipping ancestor ceremony.
7. Mid-Autumn or Fullmoon Festival
Taking place on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, the Mid-Autumn Festival has won the response of a large number of Vietnamese people.
This is the time when the crop in Vietnam has just ended. The farmers in Vietnam have idle time after the busy season days. They hold many ceremonies to give thanks to heaven and earth and celebrate a bountiful harvest. From there, the Mid-Autumn Festival was born.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival, lion and dragon dance activities cover from all over the streets to the countryside.
Mid-Autumn Festival is also the time when people exchange sweet fragrant moon cakes, including modern and traditional Vietnamese mooncakes, to show their love and care for each other.
If you are in Vietnam during the Mid-Autumn Festival, you will enjoy the fun atmosphere of the streets when all the people are immersed in the drumming and dancing of the dragon and lion artisans. It is truly a lively festival to remember.
Please see a video about how to cook colorful sweet soup from sweet potatoes for your holidays! Include English-writing in the clip. Thanks!