As part of our ‘people to people’ philosophy, which we believe that it’s the best way to truly experience the places you visit, we create opportunities for our travelers to interact with the locals through exclusive and spontaneous visits. Below we share an insight to some of traditional values of Vietnamese families, which would help our travelers better understand our culture.
According to a national legend in Vietnam, the first Vietnamese descended from a dragon lord called Lac Long Quan, who married a female heavenly angel named Au Co. They gave birth to a sack of 100 eggs, from which hatched 100 humans. One day, Lac Long Quan told Au Co that: "I am descended from dragons, you from fairies. We are as incompatible as water is with fire. So we must live apart from each other".
Then he went seawards with 50 of their children, while his wife went to the mountains with the other half of their clan. In the mountains, their oldest son, known as Hung Vuong, installed himself as Vietnam’s first monarch, becoming the founding father of the Vietnamese. Because of that, Vietnamese people refer to themselves as the dragon’s son and fairy’s grandchildren.
Today, the Vietnamese consider Van Lang of the Hong Bang Dynasty, which exited from 2879 BC to 257 BC as their first state, and Hung Vuong as the first king.
From that humble start, Vietnam has been existing for more than 4000 years. They are ancient people with their own identity and culture, and one of their most salient traditions is fighting for national independence. From the ancient time, they had to struggle against the Chinese domination. China occupied and tried to assimilate Vietnam for more than 1000 years, but the Vietnamese finally expelled the Chinese in 938 AD.
Though Vietnam never lose her self-identity, she accepted and implemented Chinese’s ancient philosophies including Confucianism, which for the next thousand years, became the foundation for Vietnam to form its world views. Therefore, Confucian ethnics are reflected in many traditional values of Vietnamese families.
Within their community
As part of Confucianism influence, Vietnamese traditionally place their roles firstly within their community rather than their own individual desires. Children are taught to follow the established codes of behavior, which include reverence for ancestors and respect for elders. And that the importance is not upon the individual's accomplishments, but upon his duty to family and society.
Within their family
The most important tradition of the Vietnamese is the worshipping of their ancestor. They believe that death only take the physical body way, the spirit lives on and resides on the family altar. So every year, they worship and remember their family members on their death anniversary.
The Vietnamese traditionally follow the extended multi-generational pattern, three or more generations living in the same house. In this extended family, the most important expectation is the respect for the elders who make the family decisions.
Vietnamese traditional family values are accomplished by the fulfillment of the role of a man and woman as parents. Since the highest status in families is given to the father, who has absolute authority in the household. As a head of the family, he has the final decision in all matters. Of cause, he holds the duty to exercise restraint and wisdom in running his family in order to deserve his respected position.
Obedience and respect are the traditional virtues; which Vietnamese children are taught to show in their family. Discipline and physical punishment are acceptable remedies for disobedience. When parents get old, children are expected to take care of them to compensate for the gift of birth and upbringing.
Young couples receive pressures from their family and community to have a boy after marriage, because the eldest son would assume the duties of his father when he died. A family, which had no son to continue the process, is superstitiously said to have been disappeared.
Roles of Women
Vietnamese women had limited rights and took a secondary place in their family, and less educated than men. After marriage, woman became housewife and mother. She would be depended upon her husband and her husband’s family, she was expected to take care of children and even grandchildren as well as performed all household tasks. A woman can be unhappy with her marriage, but the family encouraged her to sacrifice and to endure the difficulties of the marriage for the sake of her children.
Boys and girls are not free to do what they want, but to protect their family’s traditions. As virginity is cherished, pregnancy out of wedlock is a grave disgrace to the family. For their children's marriage, parents generally made decision because they could judge better.
Vietnamese placed a higher value on education rather than on material success. That’s the reason why parents encouraged their children to study and excel in their education. Vietnamese has a high regard for it, which is considered as a way for family advancement.