For many men and women in the (United States) armed forces, Vietnam may bring up less than pleasant memories. But for budget travelers keen on stretching their dollars and covering as much ground as the greenback can buy, Vietnam is a traveler’s paradise. Blessed with glittering coastlines and verdant mountains, Vietnam is a hodgepodge of colonial influences that can be seen in its boulevards, tasted in the crispiness of its baguettes, and smelled in the aroma of its coffee culture.
The Vietnam public holiday schedule 2014, though few, remind the travelers that despite the scars left by its history, it still knows how to get back to its roots and acknowledge turning points in its nationhood and celebrate them all with equal fervor.
New Year’s Day (Tết dương lịch) – Wednesday, 1 January 2014
Vietnam takes part in the international celebration of the first day of the first month of the Gregorian calendar.
Lunar New Year (Tết Nguyên Đán) – Thursday to Saturday, 30 January to 1 February 2014
The “Feast of the First Morning”, or simply “Tet”, is the most important occasion of all Vietnam public holidays. The week leading to Tet is very busy as families clean their homes, settle their debts, buy new clothes, personal effects and other needs for the coming year, cook food to last through the festivities, and reconcile with themselves and others to leave behind any ill will. To mark this occasion, incense is burned in altars at homes as a tribute to their ancestors, red is worn in clothing and ornaments, families visit their relatives, friends and business circle, and gambling is played to divine their luck for the coming year. Arguments are taboo, along with sweeping (good luck might be swept away with the bad as the year is welcomed), drawing water and digging (to give the earth a rest too).
Tet (compensatory holiday for Saturday) – Monday, 3 February 2014
Hung King Festival (Giỗ tổ Hùng Vương) – Saturday, 19 April 2014
On this day, the people pay tribute to the Hung kings who were instrumental in founding Vietnam. A ceremonial incense burning in temples is performed in their memory and honor. The holiday features bronze drum performances, parades on stilts, folk song contests, and dragon parades.
Reunification/Liberation Day (Ngày giải phóng) – Wednesday, 30 April 2014
On this day in 1975, Saigon was captured by the Communist-backed Viet Cong, ending the Vietnam War with the United States on the losing side. The “Fall of Saigon” led to the reunification of both North and South which for years have been divided ideologically. On this day, there are military parades, cultural performances that highlight the triumph of Vietnamese revolutionaries, and fireworks that signal the hour when the South Vietnamese government finally surrendered. The president and other key personalities in the government can be seen giving speeches in the capital city, Hanoi.
International Labour Day (Ngày Quốc tế Lao động) – Thursday, 1 May 2014
True to its working class ideology, Vietnam honors the laborers on this day and their economic and social contributions to the country.
National Day/Independence Day (Quốc khánh) – Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Commemorates the day when President Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam’s independence from colonial forces. On this day in 1945, Ho Chi Minh read a declaration of independence from France. Sovereignty would only come, however, after the Vietnam War when finally, Northern Vietnam, backed by communist China, won. To mark this turning point in the country’s history, the yellow-star-red-background Vietnamese flags are flown everywhere, and the streets and billboards are flooded with the pictures of “Uncle HO.”