VietnamCulture and HistoryWhat to Know about Death Anniversary in Vietnam

What to Know about Death Anniversary in Vietnam

The Vietnamese are known for their long-lasting ancestral commemoration in their families. One of the unique traditional traits of Vietnam is the death anniversary. While Birthdays and Valentine’s Day are essential in the West, Death Anniversary is a feature of worship customs in some Asian countries, including Vietnam. Read on if you have ever wondered what the death anniversary in Vietnam is and its spiritual importance to Vietnamese people.

The General Concept of Death Anniversary in Vietnam

Death anniversary in Vietnam, or “Ngay Gio” in Vietnamese, is the anniversary of passed-away family members. The deceased’s day must be at least one year before the ceremony. Death anniversary in Vietnam is held according to the dates on the lunar calendar, and usually, the oldest brother takes charge of the worship.

Moreover, it is normal for a family to have several ceremonies for the different passed-away members per year. The anniversary bears significant meaning to Vietnamese families, as this is not only the time to commemorate the deceased but also the occasion for all family members to gather and bond with each other.

The Rituals and Activities in A Death Anniversary in Vietnam

The death anniversary in Vietnam is held big or small, depending on each family’s economic condition. Generally, in these days, many family members work hard to prepare the feast and gather materials for the ancestor worship weeks before the ceremony officially happens.

On the anniversary day, all the descendants will dress neatly and burn incense to pray in front of the ancestor altar to show their respect and wish for a peaceful year ahead. The family also arranges tables and sets the feast on them beforehand. Then, they receive the guests’ offerings, usually fruits, and place them on the altar. People invited to the ceremony are relatives, neighbors, or those with a close relationship with the deceased. As soon as the incenses burn out, all members and guests sit together to enjoy the food, have drinks, and catch up with each other simultaneously. When the feast is over, the family will divide all the offerings into different bags and share them with all guests as a fortune of ancestral worship.

food of death anniversary
A huge table of foods is prepared to serve

Unlike the Vietnamese funerals where people mourn and grieve on the deceased, the death anniversary in Vietnam embraces a more delightful atmosphere year on year. It is not just an annual activity of worship and commemoration, but the occasion for family members to connect love, trust, and share their stories in their lives together.

The Significant Days of Celebrating Death Anniversary in Vietnam

The First Death Anniversary 

first anniversary
Many kinds of fruits are placed on the altar

On this day, the sorrowful ambiance still surrounds the family members, as it takes place only a year after the death of their beloved. As a result, the ceremony is solemn, and guests and family members wear formal costumes. Besides serving a feast, they also burn joss paper and money. Laughing and telling jokes are not preferred during attendance.

The Second Anniversary 

In other Vietnamese word, we call it “Le Dai Tuong”, which is held after two years since the person died. According to Vietnamese spiritual belief, the second anniversary is believed to be the most important ceremony for the deceased because it is the turning point for both the living and the dead. Compared to the first one, the second anniversary becomes a little less depressing, and the owner of the family invites many guests to the ceremony.

In the third month after the second anniversary, the family burns away all the belongings of their passed-away members. This is known as “Bo Tang” in Vietnamese, which means that this is when the living members stop their mourning period.

Annual Anniversary 

normal death anniversary
Many families prefer a small anniversary with a few special guests

The ordinary anniversary is held after three years, when the atmosphere is more delightful. Most far relatives and family members will reunite on this day, and people do not need to wear so formally on this day. The family owner will invite fewer guests and include mostly close friends and relatives instead of holding an extravagant feast.

Some Notes If You Are to Be Invited to A Death Anniversary in Vietnam:

  • Most invitations won’t say the time that you can come, as it is somewhat an unspoken rule that you join before noon
  • It is customary to bring small gifts like fruits or beers when visiting a family holding a death anniversary
  • You can ask first if you should offer incense to the altar
  • In some traditional households, the men and women will sit at separate tables, so you are advised to ask first which table you can join
  • There’s no need to get too dressed up, but casual and appropriate clothes are expected
  • Check out our guide for What to Know When Drinking with A Vietnamese.

Conclusion of Death Anniversary in Vietnam

Death anniversary is one of the special traditional rituals of Vietnam to show gratitude to ancestors by drinking water and honoring the source. In addition, it is a time for a family to come together and build up a stronger relationship, harmony, and love.

- Advertisement -

More Vietnam Travel Guides

A Local Guide to Tran Quoc Pagoda in Hanoi

Hanoi Capital is known as a long-standing historical land with a thousand years of...

Top Tips to Keep Your Luggage Safe in Vietnam

For every traveler, luggage is the most valuable property, especially when you’re traveling to...

When is the Best Time to go to Hanoi

What is the best time to go to Hanoi? What are the most interesting...

Local Recommendations: Top Hotels in Hanoi

In addition to the one-of-a-kind culture experience, Hanoi will also bring you great vacation...

Where to Stay in Mui Ne

Mui Ne is home to stunning beaches in Phan Thiet Province, along with sun-drenched...

Endangered Species in Vietnam: Some of the Most Critical

Vietnam’s lush green nature is home to many exotic species. Unfortunately, some of them...
Powered by 12Go system