Vietnam, a land of vibrant traditions and diverse cultures, is renowned for its plethora of festivals and celebrations. These events offer a fascinating glimpse into the country’s history, heritage, and the lively spirit of its people.
In this article, we’ll embark on a journey through the captivating world of Vietnam festivals, with a focus on the Tet holiday, Vietnam National Day, and the Mid-autumn Festival. We’ll also explore the regional variations in festivals and celebrations, highlighting Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam.
National Vietnam Festivals & Celebrations
Tet Festival: The Lunar New Year Extravaganza
Vietnam Lunar New Year festival is a fusion of traditions, customs, and rituals. The most iconic Tet festival symbols are the cherry blossoms (in the North), the kumquat tree and the yellow apricot blossom tree (in the South). These 3 types of trees signify the coming of spring, hold a unique meaning and represent prosperity, luck, and happiness. Families also decorate their homes during the traditional festival in Vietnam with other symbolic items, such as Tet paintings, five-fruit trays,…
The lead-up to the Tet festival is a whirlwind of activity as Vietnamese families clean their homes, prepare special feasts, and pay respects to their ancestors at local temples. One of the most beloved customs is the “giving of Li Xi” or lucky money to children and seniors in red envelopes. This famous festival in Vietnam is a time of reunion, with family members travelling from far and wide to be together.
As night falls on New Year’s Eve, the streets come alive with firework displays that light up the sky, symbolizing the desire to ward off evil spirits. People believe that the first visitor to their home after the stroke of midnight sets the tone for the year, so they carefully select a “first-footer” who brings good fortune.
Hung King Festival in Vietnam
Hung King Festival in Vietnam, or known as “Hung Vuong Memorial Day,” is a significant and ancient Vietnamese holiday celebrated to honour the Hung Kings, who are regarded as the mythical founders and first rulers of Vietnam. Typically observed on the 10th day of the third lunar month, this Vietnam festival pays tribute to the nation’s spiritual and historical roots. It is a time when people come together to express their deep gratitude to the Hung Kings, with ceremonies held at various temples and shrines throughout Vietnam. The famous festival in Vietnam features traditional rituals, including offering incense, performing traditional dances, and participating in processions. It serves as a reminder of Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage and the enduring spirit of unity and patriotism among its people.
Vietnam National Day: Celebrating Independence
On September 2nd each year, Vietnam commemorates its “National Day”, also known as “Quoc Khanh”. This celebration in Vietnam marks the declaration of independence from French colonial rule in 1945 and the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, now known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
The celebrations are marked by vibrant parades, with participants donning traditional attire and waving the red and gold national flag. Streets are adorned with flags and banners, and the atmosphere is one of national pride and unity. This is a time when Vietnamese people express their love for their country, remembering the sacrifices made for its independence.
While it’s a day of reflection on the nation’s history, Vietnam National Day is also an opportunity for families and friends to come together and enjoy patriotic fervour.
Mid-autumn Festival: A Children’s Delight
Celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, the “Tet Trung Thu” (or called the Mid-Autumn festival in Vietnam) is a beloved holiday, especially for children. It’s an ideal time for families to celebrate the harvest season and give thanks for the bountiful crops.
A central figure of the festival is the “lantern”, often beautifully crafted in various shapes and sizes. Children carry these star lanterns in colourful processions, creating a mesmerizing sight as the lanterns light up the night sky.
Another highlight of the Autumn festival in Vietnam is the tradition of “mooncakes”, which come in various flavours and are shared among family members and friends. Vietnamese moon festival is also a time for storytelling, as legends of the “Moon Lady”, Chang’e, and the Jade Rabbit are retold.
Northern Vietnam Festivals and Celebrations
The North region, with its stunning landscapes and diverse ethnic communities, boasts a rich tapestry of Vietnam festivals and celebrations.
Among the most notable is the Perfume Pagoda Festival – a spiritual annual event attracting pilgrims and tourists. It begins on the 6th of January (according to the lunar month) and includes religious rituals, cultural performances, and markets. This showcases Vietnam’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage, offering a unique experience for worshippers and visitors.
The next traditional festival in Vietnam is the “Yen Tu Festival”, celebrated on the 10th of January (according to the lunar month) at the Yen Tu Mountain – Uong Bi (Quang Ninh Province). Pilgrims from all over the country ascend the mountain to visit the famous “Dong Pagoda”, seeking blessings and spiritual fulfilment.
The “Lim Festival”, which started on the 13th of January (according to the lunar month), dedicated to the folk melody “Quan Ho,” is another gem. Held in Bac Ninh province, it’s a lively event filled with songs, dances and a sense of camaraderie.
Central Vietnam Festivals and Celebrations
The Central is known for its rich history and cultural diversity, which is beautifully showcased in its festivals.
The “Hue Festival” is a grand event held every two years, celebrating the royal heritage of the city. Visitors are treated to captivating performances, culinary delights, and art exhibitions.
The Hoi An Lantern Festival is a monthly tradition (usually on the 14th of every lunar month) where thousands of colourful lanterns illuminate the ancient town. The atmospheric glow creates a magical ambience, especially during the Vietnamese moon festival, drawing both locals and tourists.
If you are a flower lover, don’t miss the Da Lat Flower Festival, which usually takes place at the end of the year. It is a vibrant and colourful celebration held in the picturesque city of Da Lat, nestled in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. This biennial festival is a floral extravaganza that showcases the region’s abundant flower production and unique horticultural beauty. It typically features stunning flower displays, art exhibitions, floral-themed parades, and various cultural performances. The Da Lat Flower Festival not only highlights the city’s status as the “City of Flowers” but also serves as a platform for promoting tourism, trade, and cultural exchange. Visitors to this enchanting event can immerse themselves in a sea of blossoms and experience the charm of Da Lat’s distinctive floral culture.
For those seeking adventure, the “Ba Chua Xu Festival” in Chau Doc, taking place from the 22nd to the 27th of the lunar April, is a sight to behold. Pilgrims flock to the temple of the “Lady of the Realm” to seek blessings, and the festival features vibrant processions and traditional music.
Southern Vietnam Festivals and Celebrations
With its bustling cities and lush landscapes, Southern Vietnam has its share of festivals and celebrations.
The “Nghinh Ong Festival”, taking place annually on the first lunar month, is a grand maritime procession honouring the Sea God for fishermen from Quang Binh to the South (including Phu Quoc). It’s a spectacle of colourful boats and traditional music.
The “Cung Trang Festival, also called “Ok Om Bok Festival”, celebrated by the Khmer community in the middle of the lunar October, pays tribute to the moon and marks the end of the rice harvest season. The festivities include boat races, traditional dance, and music performances.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the “Tet Nguyen Tieu” of the Chinese in Vietnam marks the first full moon of the lunar year. The streets come alive with dragon dances, street parades, and traditional food stalls.
Vietnam festivals are not just events but windows into the soul of a nation. They signify unity, tradition, and the enduring spirit of a people. From the grandeur of Tet to the cultural richness of regional celebrations, Vietnam’s festivals are a testament to the country’s unique identity and its warm, welcoming people. Exploring these festivities promises not only a deeper understanding of history but also an unforgettable cultural experience. So, when you plan your trip to this beautiful country, be sure to coincide and immerse yourself in one of these vibrant famous festivals in Vietnam!