The traditional Vietnamese festivals and events are acts of celebration that relate mostly to religious rites or local traditions, and genuinely rooted in local culture. There are literally thousands of traditional festivals that can be enjoyed on the Vietnam tours and held in different regions of the country, with many related to the ancient times.
While there are the national festivals like Mid Autumn Festival and Vietnamese New Year that are celebrated by the Vietnamese people across the country, the vast majority of events are more related to local religious ceremonies or local traditions, and involve traditional dramas, songs and dances.
Here are a few of the Vietnamese festivals and events:
The Lunar New Year Festival (Tet Holiday)
Tet is the occasion that the Vietnamese hold for the Chinese New Year festival which takes place in remembrance and respect of their ancestors, as well as to welcome the coming year with family members. This is a three day holiday that can fall in the month of January, February, or March. With so many people visiting their family homes at this time of year, many of the big cities can start to appear quite deserted. Shops are virtually all closed and families gather to engage in activities and feast on traditional meals together.
Over the course of three days, there is a tradition that on the first day of the Tet festival people should make time to visit close relatives and family, while the second day is appropriate for close friends and special guests to visit, and on the third day, this is the time to visit other people such as business associates and teachers. Arguments and negative talk during this time is taboo.
The temples are opened for the locals to visit the Buddhist or Taoist temples. Many of the public facilities and museums are open for the festive period for free. The cities are decorated and lit up, but this sacred and traditional festival is mainly intended for family and friends to get together.
Beyond the Tet Holiday, the Mid-Autumn event is a very popular holiday that is celebrated with the Vietnamese children in mind. This festival takes place in late September – early October and is a celebration that takes up the entire day. On this day, the parents and adults prepare and distribute a wide range of foods, such as mooncakes, fruit (mango, apples, bananas, longan fruit, grapefruit, etc.), jellies, biscuits, and candies. Most of the food is prepared with fun symbols or shapes like a mouse, cat, or dog. The mooncakes are specific for this festival and made with ingredients like peanut, pumpkin seed, dried fruit, egg, meat and flavour.
Plus, special performances may take place in the evening with the children presented with a variety of masks and nice lanterns and play while the moon is rising.
The Mid-autumn Festival gives a perfect opportunity for family members to gather and share things that have taken place throughout the year, and create a very memorable occasion for the young and old generations.
Huong Pagoda Festival
The Huong Pagoda Festival is one of greatest Buddhist festivals to be held in northern Vietnam and plays a key role in the life of the Vietnamese Buddhists, as well as the local people in general. The purpose of this festival is for spirituality, pilgrimage and to worship Buddhism.
The Huong Pagoda is situated in the My Duc District, which is in the region of 70 km from the capital city, Hanoi. The official start of the festival is the 6th day of the first Lunar Calendar month and can last for three months.
Similar to other festivals that are celebrated throughout Vietnam, the Huong Pagoda Festival has two distinct sections: the entertaining activities and the ceremonies.
The ceremonies include a Zen ceremony with Buddhists and monks offering fruits, candles, flowers and incense. Also, there are monks that will perform a beautiful dance. Beyond the ceremonial rituals, there are several activities of an entertainment value such as exploring holy caves, climbing mountains, and boat cruises to admire the picturesque scenery. For instance, climbing the mountain (Huong Tich Mountain) is believed to lead to great success and fulfilment in life.
Tourists that are experiencing the Vietnam holiday at this time of the year can watch on and enjoy some of the well-known delicacies offered, such as grinding roots, Sang vegetables and bamboo shoot.
International Labor Day
International Labor Day (also called May Day in Vietnam) is a national public holiday that is usually celebrated around the 1st of May. Many of the local Vietnamese people that live in major cities are inclined to travel to a favourite tourist attraction or return to their hometown. This can lead to much heavier foot traffic in many destinations. But the travellers on the Vietnam private tour that like the unexpected tranquillity; a visit to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi on this day is appealing for the significant reduction in crowds and noise.
Also the Reunification Day is held a day earlier and a further public holiday that marks the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.
Holiday of the Dead (Thanh Minh)
The Holiday of the Dead is to pay homage to deceased relatives and ancestors with locals visiting the graves while taking along offerings like incense, flowers and food. Prior to making the solemn visits, the graves are tidied and cleaned a couple days before the festival date. At home, the Vietnamese people eat cold foods, such as Banh Troi (spheres created with sticky rice flour and red sugar placed inside) and Banh Chay (similar shaped food with green bean paste taking the place of the sugar).
The Thanh Minh-Holiday of the Dead event is held on the third day of the third month of the Lunar Calendar.
The Vietnamese culture has over the years built up a long tradition of organizing colourful festivals that help with entertaining the community, demonstrating sporting abilities, commemorating important events, remembering the dead, maintaining ancient traditions and expressing reverence. Any Vietnam customized tour that takes place when one of these national or regional festivals is ongoing can be a very interesting and fun experience.