In Vietnamese belief, a family is a critical factor that affects the growth of every person. Therefore, the Vietnamese always put their family first and maintain traditional Vietnamese family values. This article will give an overview of this integral part of Vietnamese culture.
Vietnamese Family Unity and Harmony among Family Members
In traditional Vietnamese family values, multiple generations live together to care for each other. A typical extended family in Vietnam often includes grandparents, parents, and children. Moving out of the family at the age of 18 is not common, and some people still live with their family until they get married. Sometimes, other relatives, such as uncles, aunts, and cousins, can also live under one roof.
A good relationship with our relatives and loyalty to the family is meaningful because we have a famous saying, “mot giot mau dao hon ao nuoc la” meaning that “blood is thicker than water.” We can help each other when someone has difficulties.
In the families, the workload is shared among the members. Traditionally, the oldest man is usually the head of the household, while women take responsibility for housework. However, there have been significant changes in the Vietnamese gender roles within the family.
Read more about Traditional Gender Roles in Vietnam
Divorce is also rare in Vietnamese society, sometimes even frowned upon. Nowadays, the younger generation has a more open-minded view about regarding a healthy and happy relationship.
Respect for the Seniors in the Family
In traditional Vietnamese family values, people are taught to give seniors absolute respect, especially in their families. The elders have gained more life experiences; they know right and wrong, so the younger ones should try to follow their advice.
Obedience and Respect towards Elders
Obedience is an obligation for every kid until they can be independent and can earn money for a living. In communication, when talking to the elders, people must use honorific titles to show respect for the seniors and add “vang”, “da”, or “thua” before and after any conversations.
These traditional Vietnamese family values are also expressed through table manners. In some rural areas in Vietnam, there are different food trays for the same meals in a family. They often call “upper trays” which means the trays of food for the seniors, for the men in that family. These trays sometimes have better food or freshly cooked dishes. The other food trays, called “lower trays” are usually for housewives, women, and the kids in the family.
Some people criticize this as gender discrimination. On the other hand, others claim that this division aims to connect everyone better. The men can discuss business or essential topics while drinking beer and wine. Meanwhile, women can look after the kids and enjoy the food more comfortably.
In some families, at the beginning of each meal, the younger ones have to invite the elders before eating in the correct order of hierarchy, from the eldest to the youngest on the eating tables. While eating, the younger also give the elders the best part of the food to show their respect. The children have chances to learn about traditional Vietnamese family values day by day thanks to the small habits like those above.
You may also want to see Traditional Vietnamese Table Manners
Vietnamese Family Values in Daily Meals
To Vietnamese, having meals daily with other family members is extremely important, especially at dinner. It is one of the most crucial customs in traditional Vietnamese family values. In our belief, this is the time of the day when a family can gather and talk to each other.
This endearing habit has been a staple since the early history of Vietnam and is still maintained by most families today. The image of a round food tray in the middle of a rectangular mat symbolizes Vietnamese cuisine culture.
Vietnamese tray of family meal
Family meals are entirely different from the meals at restaurants or food stalls. They are much simpler, and they usually consist of multiple savory dishes paired with rice. The housewives plan and prepare every dish in the family meals carefully to balance the nutrition for their family members.
This is why people away from home always remember the joyful family meals cooked by their moms and grandmothers. People who enjoy family meals in a warm atmosphere usually respect their families and traditional Vietnamese family values.
Vietnamese Family Values in Tet Holiday
Tet holiday, also known as Lunar New Year, is one of the most important occasions and festivals in Vietnamese society, the beginning of the good and new things. The main reason that all Vietnamese always look forward to the Tet holiday because this is when every member come back home to celebrate the holiday with their families.
Preparing for Tet holiday
All members clean and decorate the house with a branch of peach blossom, apricot blossom, or a kumquat tree. Then, they shop to prepare for Tet and enjoy the most delicious New Year dishes that are only eaten on Tet occasions, such as sticky rice cake (banh chung), fruit jams, and Vietnamese pork sausage.
Celebrating Tet holiday
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, the offspring come to the grandparents’ home and give them their best wishes. All the relatives and cousins meet and chit-chat for a long time. Then, everyone comes to a local pagoda or temple to visit and pray for the best things to come for their families. During the Tet festival, people welcome their ancestors back to enjoy this important holiday with their descendants. This is a part of the folk religion known as ancestral worship in Vietnam.
One particularly special thing in traditional Vietnamese Tet is giving out lucky money. The adults give tiny red money envelopes to the kids, and the young ones also provide lucky money to the elders, like parents and grandparents, giving them more luck and best wishes for the new year.
Summary of Traditional Vietnamese Family Values
In the Vietnamese community, every family is considered a part of a broader society. The family nurtures one’s mind from their childhood. Traditional Vietnamese family values teach people how to become good citizens and continuously raise their children like their parents did. Traditional family values are the most beautiful and unforgettable Vietnamese core values.