Add a little extra to your holiday by visiting Vietnam while the locals celebrate
Vietnam has a number of holidays. Some are based on the lunar calendar and others on the Gregorian calendar. Below you can read about the most important holidays.
You may also be interested in reading our list of Vietnamese Festivals that are worth a visit.
|1 Jan||Wed||New Year’s Day|
|24 Jan to 30 Jan||Fri to Thu||Tet (based on lunar calendar)|
|2 Apr||Thu||Hung Kings Commemoration Day (based on lunar calendar)|
|30 Apr||Thu||Reunification Day|
|1 May||Fri||Labor Day|
|2 Sep||Wed||National Day|
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New Year's Day
The most important New Year’s celebrations in Vietnam occur during the traditional Lunar New Year of Tet. However, Vietnam also celebrates New Year’s Day according to the Gregorian Calendar on 1 January.
Staying up long hours the night before, spending time with family and friends, indulging in food, and watching fireworks displays are all common activities on 31 December in Vietnam. Many will also go out and party all night, make New Year’s resolutions (even if just for fun), or follow various superstitions about good and bad luck.
As Western New Year’s Day is a relatively recent “import” on Vietnam’s holiday calendar, most of the traditions are similar to those in Western countries. But you will certainly find local food and culture involved as well.
The traditional New Year’s Day of Vietnam and much of Asia comes on the first day of the first month of the ancient lunisolar calendar. This typically puts “Tet” in late January or early February on the Gregorian Calendar. The holiday is celebrated for several consecutive days.
Traditionally, people will clean their houses as Tet approaches in an attempt to “sweep away” any bad luck that has accumulated from the old year. You should never clean on Tet itself.
People will visit relatives and friends during the three days of Tet, and they will also visit temples and shrines. Some may seek to honour their ancestors on this day.
Homes are often decorated for the season. Families will also gather to feast on sumptuous dishes, snacks, and sweets and to start the new year together.
Hung Kings Commemoration Day
Hung Kings Commemoration Day has been an official holiday in Vietnam since 2007. It is scheduled for the tenth day of the third month of Vietnam’s traditional calendar.
The holiday is dedicated to the memory of the Hung line of kings who ruled Vietnam as priestly kings for over 2,500 years up until around 250 B.C. These kings are counted as the nation’s ancient founders.
The Hung Kings Festival begins two days before the official holiday, on the eighth day of the third month, and continues till the eleventh day – the day after Hung Kings Commemoration Day. These celebrations are centred around the Hung Temple in the small town of Co Tich. On the tenth day of the month, which is the third day of the festival, it is the holy death anniversary of the Hung Kings even though no particular king is thought to have died on this day.
There is also a commemorative procession for Hung Kings Day, which begins at the base of Nghia Linh Mountain. Numerous people gather there to go on a pilgrimage up the mountain. They stop off at various temples along the path upward until reaching Hung Temple at the peak.
Vietnam celebrates Reunification Day on 30 April. This is the date of the fall of Saigon to Communist forces at the tail end of the Vietnam War. Soon after taking the city, it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the North’s famous leader.
Although Saigon fell on 30 April, 1975, the official unification of North Vietnam and South Vietnam into simply Vietnam came on 2 July of the following year.
On this day, you will see the Vietnamese flag flying high all over the country. There will be a parade in Ho Chi Minh City, and many political leaders will give public speeches. Banks and government offices will shut down for the day, and many will get the day off work or school. Many tour the country during this time of year, with the tomb of Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi being the number one site to visit.
As Reunification Day comes on the day before Labour Day, it is part of a larger celebratory period.
Vietnam observes International Labour Day every 1 May. As the Communist government of Vietnam sees itself as the instrument of protecting the rights of the working class, Labour Day is a major holiday with strong political associations.
Another holiday, Reunification Day, comes on 30 April and this time of year is therefore looked forward to due to numerous holidays occurring at the same time.
Labour Day is meant to commemorate the international workers’ movement of the 1800s. In Vietnam, it is also used to mark the coming of spring. It is marked by workers’ rights parades put on by labour unions in many cities.
Many, however, are less concerned for the meaning of the day and simply enjoy a much-needed day off. They may not attend any labour events but simply spend the day at home or out on the town. Family feasting, walking or picnicking out of doors, or shopping the sales are common ways to celebrate.
Vietnam celebrates National Day every 2 September, to remember the day in 1945 that Vietnam declared its independence from French colonial control. It is the day on which Ho Chi Minh read aloud Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence in Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi.
Vietnam had long been an independent power in Southeast Asia, but it fell under French control during the Colonial Era. There was already a push for independence before World War II, but after the war, this movement grew by leaps and bounds. When Japanese soldiers left Vietnam, local forces took control. But France soon sent troops to reclaim their lost Asian colony.
The August Revolution of 1945 culminated in the 2 September declaration of Vietnam’s independence by the Viet Minh.
National Day is the most patriotic of all Vietnamese holidays. It is a day full of fireworks, parades, rousing speeches, and the flying of the nation’s flag. There is a huge parade through Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi, the nation’s capital. And you will also see posters of Ho Chin Minh put up all over the place.