Vietnamese American Community Center

Vietnamese Custom

The Vietnamese are very lively and festive, as manifested through their rich and celebratory culture. Like an illuminated lantern on Tet, the warm Vietnamese people are also very receptive, welcoming people of all walks of life and creeds.

Vietnamese Greetings:
-Vietnamese customs dictate that people generally use the English “Mr.” or “Ms.” equivalent before the first name, much like in Western culture. Similarly, they use the Vietnamese word “Thưa”, meaning “please”, to add a note of reverence.
-The family name is held in the most esteem and is introduced before the first name.
-True to the conservative traditions in Vietnam, the Vietnamese are reluctant to any kind of physical contact in public, especially among the opposite sex. Therefore, they do not generally shake hands, but bow to greet each other. However, on occasion, an elderly person might deliver a light pat on a child’s head as a form of affection.

Language of Vietnam:
Vietnamese varies greatly from English, not only in its pronunciations but also in syntax. Their language is very melodious with monosyllabic words, with each accent representing six different tones. The tone of the word can entirely change its connotation. The Vietnamese have three fundamental dialects, all very similar to one another and hence can be comprehended by most Vietnamese. The second most popular language in Vietnam is English.

Social Behavior in Vietnam:
The Vietnamese are very modest and courteous people, which is reflected in the Vietnamese customs and traditions. They lead an extremely simple lifestyle which is reflective in their social communication and in their manners of interaction with each other.
- Talking loudly or using too much body movement, especially when interacting with women, is considered impolite.
-  Beckoning anyone with hands or fingers pointed vertically is regarded as inappropriate; rather, the entire hand must be pointed downward.
- Traditionally, birthdays are not observed, but Western influence has changed this. Marriages and funerals are held in greater importance, as they carried out in a more formal manner.
- Promises are held in extremely high regard and must be thoroughly honoured.
- On a social outings, it is customary for the host to pay.
- Drinking in public is considered a social shame, however, drinking is quite common among the men. Equally prevalent is smoking; even women smoke, but it is considered to be vulgar if they smoke in public.
- They are very sentimental about their ancestors, taking great offense if they are insulted.

Vietnamese Marriage:
The bond of marriage is considered sacred among the Vietnamese, as they strongly believe in the play of fate when choosing a spouse.
- The traditional age for marriage is between 18 to 25 for women and 20 to 39 for men.
- Arranged marriages are prevalent.
- After marriage the wife lives with the husband’s family and subsequently is expected to perform all household chores.

Vietnamese Family Structure:
Vietnamese customs and traditions give the highest importance to the familial structure.
- They live in large patriarchal joint families, with four generations residing together.
- The man of the house takes care of the public matters while the women are responsible for the matters of the house.
- Children live with their parents up until their marriage.
- Children also look after their aged parents until death.