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Vienamese culture Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 09 December 2005

The period of modern Vietnamese culture has gradually taken shape since the 30's and 40's of this century under the banner of patriotism and Marxism-Leninism. Vietnamese culture, with the increasingly intensive integration into the world modern civilization and the preservation and enhancement of the national identity, promises to reach a new historical peak.

It can be said that there were three layers of culture overlapping each other during the history of Vietnam : local culture, the culture that mixed with those of China and other countries in the region, and the culture that interacted with Western culture. The most prominent feature of the Vietnamese culture is that it was not assimilated by foreign cultures thanks to the strong local cultural foundations. On the contrary, it was able to utilize and localize those from abroad to enrich the national culture.

The Vietnamese national culture emerged from a concrete living environment: a tropical country with many rivers and the confluence of great cultures. The natural conditions (temperature, humidity, monsoon, water-flows, water-rice agriculture ...) exert a remarkable impact on the material and spiritual life of the nation, the characteristics and psychology of the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese nation was formed early in the history and often had to carry out wars of resistance against foreign invaders, which created a prominent cultural feature: a patriotism that infiltrated and encompassed every aspect of life.

Four great philosophies and religions have shaped the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity. Over the centuries, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism have melded with popular Chinese beliefs and ancient Vietnamese animism to form what is known as Tam Giao (or `Triple Religion')

The Vietnamese language (kinh) is a hybrid of Mon-Khmer, Tai and Chinese elements with many of its basic words derived from the monotonic Mon-Khmer languages. The most widely spoken foreign languages in Vietnam are Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), English, French and Russian, more or less in that order.

Popular artistic forms include: traditional painting produced on frame-mounted silk; an eclectic array of theatre, puppetry, music and dance; religious sculpture; and lacquer ware.

Family Culture

Respect for parents and ancestors is a key virtue in Vietnam. The oldest male in the family is the head of the family and the most important family member. His oldest son is the second leader of the family. Sometimes, related families live together in a big house and help each other. The parents chose their children's marriage partners based on who they think is best suited for their child. When people die, their families honor their ancestors on the day of their death by performing special ceremonies at home or at temples and by burning incense and fake money for the one who died. The Vietnamese believed that by burning incense, their ancestors could protect them and their family from danger and harm.

Days before the ceremony starts, the family has to get ready, because they won't have enough time to get ready when the guests arrive and the ceremony starts. Usually the women cook and prepare many special kinds of food, like chicken, ham, pork, rice, and many more including desserts.

While the women are busy cooking, the men are busy fixing up and cleaning up the house, so it won't be messy and dirty because of all the relatives of the person that died will come for the ceremony and show honor and respect to that person

Events

Special prayers are held at Vietnamese and Chinese pagodas on days when the moon is either full or the merest sliver. Many Buddhists eat only vegetarian food on these days. Some of the major religious festivals follow a lunar calendar. They include: Tet (late Jan-early Feb), the most important festival of the year, marking the new lunar year as well as the advent of spring; Wandering Souls Day (August), the second-largest festival of the year, when offerings of food and gifts are given to the wandering souls of the forgotten dead; Doan Ngu (June), when human effigies are burnt, becoming soldiers in the god of death's army; and Holiday of the Dead (April), which commemorates deceased relatives.

Last Updated ( Friday, 09 December 2005 )
 
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