How do people in Vietnam value traditional festivals?
Of course, they play a crucial role in our culture. Most Vietnamese people, especially older adults place great emphasis on preserving traditional customs and practices and passing them down to future generations. A growing number of young people, however, tend to pay less attention on practicing old traditions. For example, during Tet or Lunar New Year, some may prefer to travel abroad instead of celebrating this significant traditional holiday at home with family.
What’s the difference between the ways festivals are celebrated now and in the past?
Well, the standard of living in Vietnam has improved dramatically over the last decades so there have been drastic changes in festival celebrations. I suppose the most obvious difference is that in the past, people put more effort and time in celebrating such events so they used to be far more elaborate and authentic. In recent years, however, the majority of local traditions and festivals have been simplified or westernised to fit the modern hectic lifestyle. For example, most Vietnamese people are no longer wearing traditional clothes on Lunar New Year Holiday. Additionally, today’s festive foods are often ordered from catering services rather than be prepared by the family, which might indicate that local people place somewhat less significance on such traditions.
Do you think western festivals like Christmas are replacing traditional festivals in Vietnam?
No. it’s unlikely that all Vietnamese traditional festivals will be replaced by western ones. Obviously, western holidays & cultural events such as Christmas and Valentine are becoming increasingly popular in Vietnam. However, this doesn’t mean that they are going to take over local customs & traditions. The reason is that the majority of Vietnamese people take great pride in their cultural identity which has been well preserved for thousands of years despite being colonised by other superpowers. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that one day Vietnamese people would dismiss all their traditional heritage, both tangible and intangible.
Do you think it is wrong for young people to not celebrate traditional festivals?
Absolutely not. The way I see it, cultural preservation should be encouraged but not be mandated. The first reason is that people must have the freedom to decide how they live their life as long as they don’t violate the laws. Additionally, I believe that a certain behaviour can only be regarded as “socially unacceptable” if it causes harm to other people. So, I see nothing wrong with not celebrating a traditional festival.