The most important festivals and celebrations in Vietnam
Despite undergoing the modernization and urbanization, Vietnam is essentially a traditional country where the cultural and religious events are associated with the myths and the iconic deities.
The traditional festivals and celebrations are still honored and well-preserved. Here is the list of the most important festivals and celebrations in Vietnam, which you should join if the chance is available. Do not forget to take Asia tours as well as Vietnam tours to get more information about traveling around Vietnam.
Firework display in Tet (baomoi.com)
Tet (Lunar New Year)
Being the most important festival during the year, Tet is the time for family reunion. However, the wild party shouldn’t be expected. Tet is a religious celebration so, at this time, people prepare meals with the special traditional dishes to offer their ancestors. In Tet, people tend to visit the pagoda with the relatives to pray for a new year with good fortune. This is also an ideal time to visit their relatives or friends after a busy year.
You will surely be excited to contemplate the colorful firework displays or the superb scene of various flowers in the roads in the weeks leading up to Tet since many people buy flowers to embellish their house in this special occasion. The tradition of giving li xi (the lucky money) in Tet is still conserved as a way to send the good wish for everyone to have a new smooth year. Above all, the most impressive thing is the vibrant atmosphere of Tet, which you just discover by yourself.
The mid-autumn festival
Vietnam’s mid-autumn festival is as meaningful as Halloween or Christmas Eve in the Western. This cheerful festival is fascinating not only to children but also the adult who makes use of this occasion to remind their childhood. Being in mid-September, the mid-autumn festival has various amazing activities such as children carrying lanterns, lion dances, and the cheerful parties at moon night.
In the mid-autumn festival, the streets are covered by the bright vivid colors of the lanterns as well as full of booths selling the mooncakes. Moreover, each family sets up an altar at the eve of the mid-autumn festival to make the offerings in honor of the full moon. In this occasion, children will be provided with the colorful lanterns or funny mask to join the parade as well as the party held in the residential place.
Hung King Temple Festival
Hung King temple festival
Every year, Hung King Temple Festival is held to be in commemoration of Kinh Duong Vuong who was Vietnam’s first king in 2879 BC. This important celebration evokes the nation proud as well as the traditional “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls” of Vietnamese country. The main worship is performed in the Hung Temple that is located on the top of Nghia Linh Mountain.
In the next morning, a flower ceremony is held at Thuong temple where the deities are worshipped during Hung King’s reign. Lastly, there is a huge procession along the way towards the main temple, which comprises pilgrims and singers performing xoan and ca tru (forms of traditional singing).
Being taken place in Lim village, Tien Du district, Bac Ninh province during the mid-February, Lim festival is an ideal time to enjoy quan ho folk singing which originates from Bac Ninh land is listed as the Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2009.
In this joyful festival, several stages are set up in Lim village so that the audiences can enjoy the live performances. However, it’s a good idea to reach the lake outside Lim village’s communal house where quan ho singers deliver attractive performances on the dragon boats. Moreover, the festival also holds the cheerful traditional games such as bamboo swings, tug-of-war, wrestling, blind man’s bluff, etc.
Quan ho performance (vanhoa.evn.com.vn)
Wandering Soul Day
Frequently taking place on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, the Wandering Soul Day is believed to the time when spirits of their ancestors are able to approach their homes. This is the perfect time to show gratitude and tribute toward the ancestor as well as the national heroes making the sacrifice for the country.
On the eve of this day, family members visit Buddhist temples and graves of their relatives to burn incense and make an offering that includes flowers, sticky rice, sugarcane, fruits and banh chung (Vietnamese square sticky rice cake). Joss papers are also burned on this occasion as the offerings for the death in heaven. The celebration is also called Tet Han Thuc (the Cold Food Festival) since the locals have the tradition of eating chilled dishes such as banh troi (floating rice cake) and banh chay (glutinous rice balls) during this time.
Despite being a communist country, Buddhism has been still the greatest religion in Vietnam and Buddha’s Birthday is held by followers all over Vietnam annually. Buddha’s Birthday which takes place on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month aims to express the gratitude and appreciation to the founder of Buddhism.
On this occasion, the temples are adorned luxuriously while the traditional religious prayers and offerings have been still performed all over the country. Being the most sacred day for all Buddhism followers, Buddha’s Birthday is held on a large scale with various activities such as parades, organizing the sessions of Buddha’s teaching across the nation or delivering the flower pots to the river. Buddha’s Birthday reminds every Buddhists of practicing his teaching that is “be kind, be humble and be pure”.
These festivals not only offers visitors a good opportunity to take a closer look at Vietnam's myth, customs, and traditions but also reflect the diverse local spiritual life. Although Vietnam has undergone the urbanization and modernization, Vietnamese people have always honored their heritage that is expressed through the traditional festivals and celebrations. Let’s join these above festivals and get the most authentic experiences in Vietnam.