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Home > Vietnam Hotels > Vietnam Culture


Vietnam Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations

     

Discount Hotels in Vietnam : Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Dalat, Danang, Hoi An, Hue, Nha Trang, Vung Tau, Halong, Hai Phong, Chau Doc, Binh Dinh, Can Tho, Lao Cai, Phan Thiet, Long Hai, Phu Quoc, Ninh Binh, Nghe An (Vinh), Dien Bien

 


Vietnam Culture The People - with Wired Destionations

Today there are nearly seventy five million people living in Vietnam. About seven million ethnic Vietnamese minorities are members of the hill tribes or montagnards, making their homes in mountainous highlands.

Altogether, there are more than 54 different ethnic groups that live in Vietnam. These ethnic groups vary in size from the Tay, who number over 1.3 million, to the O-du, with only 100 individuals.

Surprisingly, with all of this diversity, Vietnam is one of the most homogenous societies found in Southeast Asia. Many of the individual traditions and customs have been peeled away by outside influences such as that of communism and capitalism. Also, the decades of warfare have taken a heavy toll on the different people and their territories.

Ao Dai, the traditonal Vietnamese long dress
Ao Dai, the traditonal Vietnamese long dress

There is however, one tradition that binds the people of the country. It is the traditional dress-- the ao dai. The ao dai is a contoured, full or half length dress worn over loose fitting trousers. The dress has two slits on both sides starting at the waist and going down separating into a flowing front and back panel. To the Vietnamese people, the ao dai is associated with beauty and grace. The ao dai, and what it has come to represent, seems to have transcended the age barrier and to have reached people of all walks of life.

Languages spoken in Vietnam

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese, a member of the Austro-Asiatic family. Linguists usually consider Vietnamese to be a distinct language group, although it has some similarities to Chinese and other languages spoken in Southeast Asia.

Like Chinese, Vietnamese is a tonal language but its syntax is closer to Khmer, the official language of Cambodia. Other languages spoken in Vietnam are Chinese, Khmer, Cham, and various other tribal languages spoken by peoples living in the mountains. The sound of spoken Vietnamese has been compared to the sound of birds twittering.

There is, however, a distinction between spoken and written Vietnamese, and it came about not long ago. In 1954, the governments of both North and South Vietnam adopted quoc ngu (national language) as their national script. Quoc ngu is a form of written Vietnamese developed by Catholic missionaries using the Latin (Roman) alphabet in the 17th century. Before that time, the only written form of the language, chu nom, was based on Chinese characters.
 

Vietnam Religions and Faiths

Spirituality in Vietnam plays a major role in everyone's daily life. Vietnam has a diverse mix of religions. Vietnamese belief systems include Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Buddhism and Tam Giao. Tam Giao is a blend of Taoism, popular Chinese beliefs, and ancient Vietnamese animism.

Superstition plays more than just a passing role in the Vietnamese Society. It is part of tradition and customs passed down from one generation to the next. In everyday life, a Vietnamese often relies on his personal prejudices, his emotions and the trusted word of his forefathers to guide him. A common example involves the twelve-year lunar calendar. In this calendar, many of the years are incompatible, so two people that are very much in love can not marry each other if they are born in incompatible years. This mismatch is thought to bring misfortune to the marriage and the lives of the husband and wife including the risk of breaking family ties with his parents and elderly relatives.

Astrology plays a major role in the future. According to astrology, a person's date of birth is very important because it decides his or her character and destiny. A large number of palm-readers, astrologers, and fortune-tellers owe their living to Vietnamese superstition and they often are able to make a small fortune from their regular clientele. Even the poor save up all year for that occasional visit to a soothsayer.

Buddhism

The dominant religion in Vietnam is Buddhism, and the Vietnamese practice a form of Buddhism called Mahayana. The Buddhists believe that each person lives many lives and their ultimate achievement being nirvana. Nirvana is ultimate peace and marks the end of the living and dying cycle. Buddhists follow the lifestyle of Gautama Buddha, who reached nirvana through his extensive meditation. They are taught to view worldly possessions and material items as insignificant. They are also taught to be compassionate with others, and while trying to reach Nirvana, should help fellow followers to reach the same zenith.

Confucianism

Confucianism is the philosophical system based on the fundamental teachings of Confucius. Confucius taught people to honor their parents, teachers, and government leaders. He believed education to be one of the essentials of life, and today his ideas still greatly influence Vietnamese beliefs.

Taoism

Taoism is a philosophical teaching based on the prophecy of Lao Tse. He wrote a short book called Tao Te Ching, which taught that the way to find peace is to live a simple life in harmony with nature. Taoists believe that there is a universal force present at all times, and in all things. The symbol of this force is the yin yang circle (am duong). The black and white halves of the circle symbolize the polarities of the universe, and the dots within the halves, show that nothing is entirely one way or the other. When these opposites are in balance, the body and soul are at peace.

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