Saturday, September 18, 2021

Festivals & Holidays in Vietnam

AsiaVietnamFestivals & Holidays in Vietnam

By far the most important festival is Tết – the Lunar New Year festival – which takes place between the end of January and March. In the period leading up to Tết, the country is in the midst of preparations. Motorcyclists rush to deliver potted mandarin trees and flowering shrubs, the traditional decorations of the house. People are a little stressed and elbows are getting sharper, especially in the big cities where the usual traffic becomes almost murderous. Then, a few days before Tết, the pace starts to slow down as thousands of city dwellers leave for their ancestral cities in the provinces. Finally, on the first day of the new year, there is a brutal transformation: the streets become silent, almost deserted. Almost all shops and restaurants close for three days (except for a few that mainly receive foreign visitors; hotels operate as usual).

In large cities, streets are decorated with lights and public festivals are held, attracting several thousand inhabitants. But for the Vietnamese, the Tết is above all a private and family celebration. On the eve of the new year, families come together and exchange good wishes (from the younger to the older) and gifts of “good luck money” (from the older to the younger). On the first three days of the year, the hours of the day are dedicated to visits: on the first day to relatives, on the second day to closest friends and important colleagues, and on the third day to everyone else. Many people also visit the pagodas. In the evening, people drink and play (men) or chat, play games, sing karaoke and enjoy traditional snacks and sweets (women and children).

Visiting Vietnam during the Tết has good and bad points. The negative points: Traffic is saturated just before the holidays as many Vietnamese travel to their hometowns; hotels are full, especially in small towns; and the choice of shops and restaurants is very limited in the first days of the New Year (some places are closed for up to two weeks). Pagodas are particularly active, museums and historical sites that remain open are free, and the foreign-oriented travel industry with backpacker buses and resort hotels is developing as usual. Visitors also have the chance to be invited to the celebrations, especially if you have local contacts or manage to make Vietnamese friends during your stay. If you are visiting Tết, it is advisable to settle somewhere at least two days before the New Year and not try to move for a few days.

Less important holidays are 1 May, the traditional Socialist Labour Day, 2 September, the Vietnamese National Day, King Hung’s Lunar Calendar Day on 10 March, which commemorates previous kings, and Reunification Day on 30 April, which commemorates the fall of Saigon in 1975. At this time, trains and planes are usually full and it is difficult to find accommodation on the beach or in Dalat. It is best to book well in advance.

Holidays in Vietnam

DateEnglish nameLocal nameComments
1 JanuaryThe New YearTết dương lịch
From the last day of the last lunar month to the 5th day of the first lunar monthTết (Vietnamese New Year)Tết Nguyên ĐánThe biggest holiday of the year, takes place towards the end of January – beginning of February.
10th day of the 3rd lunar monthCommemorations of the Hungarian KingsGiỗ tổ Hùng VươngNew public holiday since 2007, around April (decided by the government on 28 March 2007).
30 aprilDay of the Liberation of the South for National ReunificationNgày Giải phóng miền Nam, thống nhất đất nướcLiberation of Saigon and reunification of Vietnam 1975
1 MayInternational Workers’ DayNgày Quốc tế Lao động
2 SeptemberNational DayQuốc khánhVietnam declares independence and establishes the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

Other holidays in Vietnam

DateEnglish nameLocal name
3 FebruaryAnniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of VietnamNgày thành lập Đảng
8 MarchInternational Women’s DayQuốc tế Phụ nữ
21 aprilVietnam Book DayNgày sách Việt Nam
7 MayDien Bien Phu Victory DayNgày Chiến thắng Điện Biện Phủ
19 MayThe birthday of President Ho Chi MinhNgày sinh Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh
1 JuneInternational Day of the ChildNgày quốc tế thiếu nhi
28 JuneVietnamese Family DayNgày gia đình Việt Nam
27 JulyMemorial Day (Day of Martyrs and Wounded Soldiers) or (Day of War Invalids and Vietnamese Martyrs)Ngày thương binh liệt sĩ
19 AugustDay of Commemoration of the August RevolutionNgày cách mạng tháng 8
10 OctoberCapital Liberation DayNgày giải phóng thủ đô
20 OctoberVietnamese Women’s DayNgày phụ nữ Việt Nam
20 NovemberVietnamese Teachers’ DayNgày Nhà giáo Việt Nam
22 DecemberNational Defence Day (anniversary of the founding of the People’s Army of Vietnam)Ngày hội quốc phòng toàn dân (ngày thành lập Quân đội nhân dân Việt Nam)
5/1 (moon-shaped)Victory of Ngọc Hồi-Đống ĐaChiến thắng Ngọc Hồi – Đống Đa
15/1 (lunar)Lantern festival (full moon of the 1st month)Tết Nguyên Tiêu (Rằm tháng giêng)
15/4 (moon-shaped)Buddha’s birthdayLễ Phật đản
5/5 (lunar)Semi-annual festivalTết Đoan ngọ
15/7 (moon-shaped)Ghost FestivalRằm tháng bảy, Vu Lan
15/8 (lunar)Mid-Autumn FestivalTết Trung thu
23/12 (lunar)Caregiver in the kitchenÔng Táo chầu trời