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Vietnamese Customs and Traditions


The Vietnamese are known to be polite, hospitable and sensitive. They have a casual and friendly manner. They view friendship as being very important throughout ones life. They are always open to visits from friends. Drop in visits are welcome. The Vietnamese are very close to their family.

When they offer you gift, the Vietnamese will usually speak lightly about it. Even though it is an expensive gift, they may pretend it is of no great monetary value, since boasting is often criticized.
With 4000 years of civilization, the Vietnamese are proud people who like to recite to a myth that they are descendants of an angel and a dragon.
If you happen to be in their homes at meal time, the Vietnamese will probably invite you to sit down and share whatever food is available. They may not hesitate to offer you the best portions as a sincere gesture of hospitality and close friendship. Let them know that you enjoy their food is one way in successfully building a better relationship with them.
When they invite you to their homes for a meal, celebration, or special occasion, some gifts -- usually food, fruits, chocolate or liquors (especially American and French liquors are favorite) -- should be offered to the host's family.
Although the Vietnamese may be happy to accept your offer, he usually refuse the first time or even the second time, for fear that he might be regarded as greedy if he accepts your offer the first time. He may claim that he already has or does not need it. It is recommended that you have the patience to repeat the offer once more. Patience is one of the keys in successfully dealing with the Vietnamese.
On the other hand, having a few drinks in a social gathering is widely acceptable. Like many other parts of the world, Vietnam does not sanction heavy drinking. Alcoholism is often kept hidden since it is viewed as a social disgrace to the family.
Alcohol drinking is now increasing among men and drunkenness in public does occasionally happen. However, the Vietnamese, at present, do not view this as a social problem because alcohol consumption level per capita in Vietnam is still one of the lowest in the world -- average about 5 liters per person.
The majority of Vietnamese women never drink and it is not unusual if they decline when alcoholic beverages are offered to them. Drinking problem are rare among women.
While smoking is considered the norm among men, even young men; very few women smoke. Vietnamese Women's smoking in public is seen as tackiness and those smoking women are often regarded as "liberal".
Influenced by Buddhist theology and Confucian philosophy, Vietnamese belived that fate in marriage, as well as wealth and position, were preordained, though choice could play some role in activating a positive or negative fate.
Traditionally, children lived with their parents until marriage, then the couple moved to the husband father‘s house.
The extended family arranged marriage, but individuals were consulted on the choice of their mate.
The typical engagement lasted six month with little contact between the bride and groom prior to the marriage. Traditionally the marriage was at on of the couple‘s house. Men usually marry between 20 and 30, and women between 18 and 25. VietnameseWomen kept their maiden names legally but used their husband‘s name formally.
To address people formally, use Mr. or Ms. or a title plus the first name. There are several titles of respect in Vietnamese, but they aren't used in English.
"Thua" (meaning please) is added in front of the first name to show respect.
Women do not shake hands with each other or with men. Physical contact between grown-up relatives or friends (both males and females), or between the same or opposite sexes, is not a common sight.
Many Vietnamese may greet by bowing slightly to each other, they may join hands. Usually, higher ranking people are greeted first (the family head).
Vietnamese culture is concerned more with status (obtained with age and education) than with wealth.
Breaking a promise can be a serious violation of social expectation for the Vietnamese. It is very difficult to re-establish a lost confidence.
When inviting a friend on an outing, the bill is paid for by the person offering the invitation.
Vietnamese may not take appointment times literally, and will often arrive late so as not to appear overly enthusiastic.
Speaking in a loud tone with excessive gestures is considered rude, especially when done by Vietnamese women.
Summoning a person with a hand or finger in the upright position is reserved only for animals or inferior people. Between two equal people it is a provocation. To summon a person, the entire hand with the fingers facing down is the only appropriate hand signal.
The elderly grandparents and parents are taken care of until they die.
Only a few urban people, influenced by Western customs, celebrate birthdays, since that occasion is not a Vietnamese customs Nor do Vietnamese send Christmas cards. Wedding and funeral ceremonies are important events and are usually performed with solemn and traditional rituals.
Modesty and humility are emphasized in the culture of the Vietnamese and deeply ingrained into their natural behavior. Therefore, bragging is often criticized and avoided. When be- ing praised for something, a Vietnamese often declines to accept praise by humbly claiming that he does not warrant such esteem. The Vietnamese do not customarily demonstrate their knowledge, skills, or possessions without being asked to do so.
Traditionally, Vietnamese people list their family name first, then their middle name, with their first (given) name listed as last. Family members use different given names (first names aren't passed down), and the name reflects some meaning. Most names can be used for either gender.
To avoid confrontation or disrespect, many will not vocalize disagreement. Instead of relaying negative communication, people may not answer a question.
It is disrespectful to touch another person's head. Only an elder can touch the head of a child.
When getting a praise, people usually smile instead of saying "thank you". A smile is like a silent "thank you". Most Vietnamese people are very modest and deflect praise.
Insults to Vietnamese elders or ancestors are very serious and often lead to severed social ties.

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