Vietnamese traditional culture has been formed and developed over many generations. It exists in the daily life of each person and the whole of the country, creating beautiful differences that attract most visitors.
From family to society, from ancestor worship to Hung King ceremony, the ways of dressing, festivals, etc have contributed to making Vietnam become a country containing multi-colorful values of traditional culture.
In this article, Vietnamdrive would like to give an overview to you about the top highlights of culture in Vietnamese life.
Now let’s explore together!
1. Traditional cultural values remains in Vietnamese families
Vietnamese people always put the family at the center of most thoughts and works in daily life. They think that the family is the center of society, the foundation of cultural preservation. The family contributes to the development and civilization of the whole country.
With the old sense, children have the responsibility to nurture their old parents. Therefore, living with or near parents’ house is a desire of most people to be able to take care of their father and mother.
Also, in the past, plenty of people left their jobs or high-ranked positions far away, just to live in their hometown. Thus, the traditional Vietnamese family has formed a communal way of life, the three or four generations living together.
Although nuclear families have been developed in recent years, you can still see many traditional families in Vietnam.
Nowadays, the sense of living with or near their parents has changed. Lots of young people are free to travel, looking for their own sky to have the opportunity to develop their talents and careers. However, the awareness of caring parents is still a strong influence in each person’s life.
Filial piety is at the forefront of Vietnamese morality. Everyone thinks that if a person is not good with the parents, that one cannot be kind to anybody.
Filial piety to parents, in addition to maintaining respect, do not let them upset. Children must think of ways to have a suitable career and get success to satisfy the wishes of the parents, and not do bad things with family and society.
Thus, the traditional family values have contributed to making the Vietnamese culture more colorful and enduring.
When you have the opportunity to travel to Vietnam, take a little time to visit a few traditional families to understand more about the cultural beauty of Vietnamese families.
2. Ancestor worship is a vital cultural feature
The custom of worshiping ancestors, including grandparents, parents of each family, has been shaped in Vietnam for a long time.
Vietnamese ancestor worship is a very respectful act, the expression of the spirit not forgetting the roots, which is also an obligation of all human beings.
Family members often organize an annual celebration to commemorate the deceased, which is also the time when descendants gather together to show respect for their ancestors.
Therefore, when visiting any family in Vietnam, you will easily recognize a very solemn place, usually in the middle of the house, is the ancestor altar.
Be careful not to stand with your back to this altar! Nor to sit in front of the altar even though there is a chair facing the altar. Please sit down aside to show respect for their family and ancestors, creating a high appreciation in Vietnamese culture.
Worshiping in families forms ceremony of all the country, which is the anniversary of Hung Vuong King.
On the tenth day of the third month of the lunar calendar every year, Vietnam holds a national ceremony to pray to the Hung king. The activity mainly happens at Hung Temple in Phu Tho province, Vietnam.
Most people celebrate the Hung King festival to show gratitude to the creator of the country. This cultural beauty is an indispensable part of the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people.
Although worshipping ancestor and the Hung King is a traditional custom and a valuable belief, not a Vietnamese religion with enough teachings, it takes essential roles in forming social awareness. This cultural feature has existed and strongly developed in the Vietnamese’s life today.
3. Beliefs live in Vietnamese culture
Besides the culture of ancestor worship, the folk beliefs of the Vietnamese people specialize in praying the tutelary deities, which has been almost in the villages in Vietnam.
The temples of the villages represent a traditional cultural practice that shows respect and good gratitude to tutelary spirits who have made merit to the village or the nation.
Many ancient craft villages in Vietnam also have the custom of worshiping the first talents who established the jobs for villagers. For example, the temples were built in the places of making wooden furniture at Nhi Khe (Ha Tay, Hanoi), the casting of bronze in Hue City, the craft shoes in Chan Hai Hung. The folk opera in North Vietnam and Cai Luong in the South also have the custom of worshiping the passing profession.
As a result, when you visit several rural areas in Vietnam, you can easily recognize the ancient temples keeping the spiritual value of each village.
In these sites, people often hold regular folk celebrations annually. As on the occasion of the start of a new crop, farmers usually hold a Hạ Điền ceremony to pray for the good weather and the trees growing well. And when the rice has been harvested, people will organize a new rice ceremony, usually in the ninth lunar month.
This custom demonstrates the ethic of “drinking water thanks to the resource” in the Vietnamese people’s life. That is morally good if, in the family line, they remember their ancestors’ merit; in the villages is recorded the goodness of tutelaries.
4. Festive culture also forms societal values in Vietnam
The festival is part of the cultural color of the Vietnamese spiritual life. The festival itself is a place for everyone in the community to exchange feelings with each other, helping to strengthen the communal values and the spirit of mutual support.
Plenty of celebrations take place all of Vietnam, spreading throughout almost months of the year.
In which spring is the main festive season. Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan) is the most important traditional festival of Vietnamese people. At Tet holidays, everyone worships their ancestors and rests after a year of hard work.
The significant traditional festivals in Vietnam also include:
- the Hung King celebration on the 10th of the third lunar month each year,
- the Giong festival on the 9th of the ninth lunar held in Gia Lam (Hanoi),
- the Huong pagoda festival taking place for a long time from the 6th of the first lunar month to the end of the third lunar month (at Huong Pagoda – My Duc, Hanoi),
- the fishermen ceremony in Phu Vang (Thua Thien Hue) on the 12th of the first lunar month,
- the typically Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th of the eighth lunar month when most children wait for sweet moon cakes and fun toys.
The festivals promote the communal culture to develop strongly. Also, these activities strengthen the love of each person’s origins when being immersed in the sacred atmosphere of the celebration.
Participating in one of the traditional festivals is also a perfect way to explore Vietnamese culture. So, when you plan your itinerary to Vietnam, you should notice the above holidays.
5. Rich culinary enriches culture in Vietnam
Accompanying a long and diverse culture is a rich and unique culinary scene. From the north to the south, from the mountainous places to the islands in Vietnam, the Vietnamese people live in various geographic regions, so the cuisine creates a distinct nuance.
Many dishes have become specialties in Vietnam and are well-known in the country and the world, such as Spring Rolls and Pho Hanoi, Bun Bo Hue, egg rolls (Cao Bang, Lang Son), roasted duck with honey, sour noodle soup, bee-worm porridge, and sticky rice of Muong.
Northern Vietnam cuisine has features: a salty, rich taste, not as spicy, fatty, and sweet as other regions. The northern people mainly add light fish sauce and shrimp paste and use various easy-to-find vegetables and freshwater fishes, shrimps, crabs, and clams.
Many visitors appreciate Hanoi cuisine, claiming that it represents the most typical culinary quintessence of North Vietnam. You can find tasty dishes of pho, bun thang, bun cha, gifts (such as Com Vong), spring rolled of Thanh Tri, and special spices (such as Ca Cuong oil and Lang basil).
Central cuisine is known for its hot taste, with all its unique properties reflected in a distinct flavor, spicier and saltier dishes than northern and southern foods, and colors mixed with different styles but inclined to red and dark brown.
Typically, Hue cuisine has the influence of royal culinary styles, so it is very sophisticated in processing and presentation. Each ingredient is processed very differently for various dishes. This feature also creates an elegant style of Hue people.
Southern food has a tendency of sweet and sour taste, influenced by Chinese, Cambodian, and Thai cuisine. With their own cooking habits, most chefs often add sugar and coconut milk.
Southern cuisine also uses different ingredients from brackish and saltwater than the North (fish, shrimp, crabs, sea snails). Plenty of rustic dishes has been created and become specialties, such as a rice-field mouse with coconut water, cobra for mung porridge, coconut worm, and grilled snakehead fish.
And tasting the local food is one of the exciting activities in Vietnam that most tourists like to do when traveling to this country. Will you do it?
6. The beauty of dress culture goes with the Vietnamese
With 50 ethnic groups in Vietnam, the clothes of each group contribute to the diversity and colorfulness of Vietnamese culture in costumes.
When you have the opportunity to visit the mountains of northern Vietnam, you will not be able to ignore the colorful brocade shirts and skirts of the local minorities.
Through the patterns on the clothes and scarves, one can know the skillfulness and industriousness of the woman. In order to weave beautiful and attractive motifs, they need diligently to implement unique techniques to make the product more attractive.
Besides, we also see beautiful traditional costumes of the northern plain, such as four-flap or five-flap dresses. Although these dresses are no longer popular in modern life, many artists in Hanoi, Nghe An, or Thanh Hoa Province often use for performances when singing folk songs.
Next is the typical Ao Ba Ba in South Vietnam that becomes neat and simpler than other traditional clothes in the northern areas to better suit for activities in the fields.
Specifically, when visiting Vietnam, most visitors are impressed with the traditional Vietnamese dress – Ao Dai. The current ao dai has a few changes, but it still carries the elegant charm of the female people.
The ao dai becomes a symbol of the Vietnamese woman’s beauty. Everywhere, from high school girls, hotel receptionists to office workers, female teachers, the images of ao dai are still present in life in Vietnam.
Although most people wear trendy clothes in modern style, Ao Dai still lives in almost every place of daily activities. However, for other traditional clothes, we can see them at festivals and Tet holidays.
Vietnamese culture is a comprehensive overview of many aspects of life. However, with the limit of an article introducing a general culture in Vietnam, we only point out six most prominent features in the cultural beauty that exist in local life.
These cultural highlights can be seen as the typical factors to form other unique characteristics that you can encounter when coming to Vietnam.
With the above information, we hope you have a fundamental knowledge of Vietnamese culture so that you can get more confident when traveling, working, or living in this beautiful country.