So strange and yet so beautiful: Vietnamese traditions

Vietnamese in traditional clothing

Vietnam is a country of contrasts and cultural overlaps. This is also evident when you look at the diverse Vietnamese traditions. Below you will find a brief overview of these traditions and customs VIETNAM VISA ONLINE has researched for you. Don't be surprised if you see people burning coloured paper on your Vietnam vacation or if the locals do not celebrate New Year until the end of January!

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Vietnamese traditions – not without grandma and grandpa!

Vietnamese believe that their deceased ancestors live on in another universe. They see it as their duty to meet the ancestors' needs. In return, the Vietnamese tradition says, the descendants receive advice from the deceased and they are filled with happiness. And that is precisely why there is a small, usually colourful altar in almost every house in the country. This serves as communication for the deceased relatives: the family sacrifices fruit and other dishes as well as wine. In addition, incense sticks and candles are lit on the altar before a prayer begins. Votive paper is also sacrificed, which leads us to the next point...

Handicrafts in a different way

This Vietnamese tradition is often astonished by visitors: coloured paper (so-called votive paper) is folded into houses, cars, clothing and many other forms and then burned. After the cremation, the faithful pour some wine on the ashes so that the spirits can ascend to the sky and give the presents to the ancestors.

Good to know: The Vietnamese tradition with the votive paper takes place on certain days (like New and Full Moon days or annual ancestors anniversaries).

So that the universe stays in balance

In Vietnam, animistic popular religions have partly mixed with "established" religions, such as Buddhism or Hinduism. Animists believe that souls exist in humans as well as in non–human "living beings". At the same time, the popular religion says that the souls and spirits of the dead control all phenomena and forces in the universe. Thus, the deceased have a significant influence on the (environment) world and the fate of the individual. Since the souls can be anchored in trees, rivers and other waters as well as in mountains, the sun and the moon, the corresponding gods must be honoured in order to offer protection to the living from harm.

This Vietnamese tradition or animism is particularly common among the people in the highlands. The communities often live a life that is all about agriculture. It is all the more important that the gods give their blessings to plants and crops.

Vietnamese traditions and money

In the Vietnamese belief there is a god of wealth. This is understood as a kind of benefactor who "boosts" the business and own restaurant, hotel or similar. Brings happiness. In order not to be left out of luck, according to the Vietnamese tradition, you should set up an altar in your shop. In front of the entrance or in a well-ventilated corner of the premises.


Especially when spring approaches, many locals follow the Vietnamese tradition and go to temples and pagodas to pray for happiness, health and peace. People come together and gather in a spiritual place to leave the difficulties of everyday life behind and to experience the harmony between earth and sky.

Happiness and prosperity for the new year

The Tet festival is the New Year festival and a particularly beautiful Vietnamese tradition. It takes place from day one of the first month of the lunar calendar (= around the end of January) and extends over three or more days. In the context of this custom, one comes together with the family to express the wish for happiness, kindness and prosperity for the new year; they laugh, sing and dance together.

Vietnamese traditions and modernity are not mutually exclusive

As you can see, Vietnam does not only inspire its visitors with beautiful beaches, majestic mountains and imposing rainforests. There are also numerous Vietnamese traditions that stand out clearly from those in other cultures and continue to shape the country's identity to this day. These customs are a fascinating cultural heritage that has survived many generations and will survive many more generations. It is the amalgamation of the Vietnamese traditions with the modern values, which makes the attraction of the Southeast Asian country for many holidaymakers.

Created: 2/21/2020 | Modified: 6/20/2023

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