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Vietnam

Culture

The Culture of Vietnam, which is agricultural and based on wet rice cultivation, is one of the oldest in the Asia Pacific region.

Due to its proximity to many other Asian nations, particularly China, Vietnam's culture has been ifluenced by and has influenced the cultures of its neighbouring countries. However, the major catalyst for Vietnamese culture's development comes from indigenous factors.

During the French colonial period, Vietnamese culture received merchant influences from Europe, including the spread of Catholicism and the adoption of the Latin alphabet (to this day Vietnam is the only non-island nation of Indochina which uses the Latin alphabet to write the national language).

In the socialist era, the cultural life of Vietnam has been deeply influenced by government-controlled media and the cultural influences of socialist programs. For many decades, foreign cultural influences were shunned and emphasis placed on appreciating and sharing the culture of communist nations such as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and others. Since the 1990s, Vietnam has seen a greater re-exposure to Asian, European and American culture and media.


Holidays

Vietnam celebrates many holidays, including traditional holidays which have been celebrated in Vietnam for thousands of years, along with modern holidays imported predominantly from Western countries. On public holidays in Vietnam, workers get the day off work. Prior to 2007, Vietnamese workers observed eight public holiday per year, among the lowest in the region. However, in 2007 the government added the traditional holiday commemorating the mythical Hùng King to its list of public holidays, increasing the number of days to nine.

Here are some of the public holidays:

  • January 1 - New Year’s Day

  • February 8 – Chinese New Year’s Eve

  • February 9 – Chinese New Year’s Day

  • April 30 - Liberation Day/Reunification Day

  • May 1 - International Labour Day

  • September 2 — National Day

Knowledge of Vietnamese traditional holidays would give you a chance to partake in the festivities and observe the local customs and traditions from close quarters. Here are some of the most celebrated traditional holidays:

  • The Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month

  • Buddha’s Birthday, which falls on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month

  • The Mid-year Festival that takes place on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month

     

  • The Mid-Autumn Festival that is observed on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar

  • Tet Tao Quan, Vietnam that takes place on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month


Sports

Some popular sports in Vietnam are traditional Chinese shadow boxing (or tajiquan), deep-breathing training, badminton, and mini-soccer. Courses on judo, karate and taekwondo  are poplular as these martial arts are passions for the youth in Vietnam. Vietnam has also began to make its mark in the international sporting arena with its first silver medal won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics by Hieu Ngan Tran in Tae Kwon Do.

Even though sport in Vietnam has made its mark more in the area of martial arts, the most popular spectator sport is soccer. Some other popular Vietnamese sports are cycling, badminton, table tennis and volleyball.


Food

Vietnamese cuisine is extremely diverse, often divided into three main categories, each pertaining to Vietnam's three main regions (north, central and south). It uses a variety of vegetables and very little oil, and is mainly based on rice, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Its characteristic flavours are sweet (sugar), spicy (serrano peppers), sour (lime), nuoc mam (fish sauce), and flavoured by a variety of mint and basil.

Vietnamese Sour SoupVietnam also has a large variety of noodles and noodle soups. Different regions invented different types of noodles, varying in shapes, tastes, colors, etc. One of the nation's most famous types of noodle is phở (pronounced "fuh"), a type of noodle soup originating in North Vietnam, which consists of rice noodles and beef soup (sometimes chicken soup) with several other ingredients such as bean sprouts and scallions (spring onions). It is often eaten for breakfast, but also makes a satisfying lunch or light dinner. The boiling stock, fragrant with spices and sauces, is poured over the noodles and vegetables, poaching the paper-thin slices of raw beef just before serving. Phở is meant to be savoured, incorporating several different flavours: the sweet flavour of beef, sour lemons, salty fish sauce, and fresh vegetables.



© 2009 Ottawa-Carleton Education Network