Communal village life has been a feature of Vietnamese life for centuries. Even today, 80% of Vietnamese live in villages, farming and fishing, sometimes both. Each family is a strongly-knit unit but each is also dependent upon the rest of the village. For centuries, villages have been growing rice as the stable food, ‘’wet rice’’ on the flood plains and ‘’upland rice’’ in higher regions such as the Northern Highlands which tourists on Vietnam travel packages are likely to visit to learn more about the hill tribes and the wonderful natural environment.
In urban areas, there has always been guilds, locals gathering together for mutual benefit. Even though city populations are growing and daily life has been changing because of modern influences, Vietnam is keen to hold on to its traditions, rural as well as urban.
Each village and guild has its own conventions, though obviously operating within the laws of the land. Tourists travelling in Vietnam will find many interesting museums chronicling the history, culture and religion of Vietnam over time. The History Museum in Hanoi, often the starting point for Vietnam tour packages has plenty to show the traveller about the organisations that have existed over the centuries.
Villages are made up of extended families, up to four generations in each family and they are often related, no matter how distantly to the other families in the village. The concept of kinship places demands on everyone to work for themselves and others, assisting others in the village in whatever ways they can materially or spiritually.
There is a hierarchy within a family and therefore logically in the village as well. Everyone has a role to play, even the children, though once people reach the age where they are regarded as elderly, formerly 40 but more frequently now a minimum of 50, they will not be expected to work but their opinions remain very important. The structure of a village does make it difficult for any stranger to come and live there unless marrying into one of the existing families. It may seem to be discrimination but it does provide the element of stability to a village. If there is a disadvantage in reliance on the group it may deter initiative.
Each village is likely to have a communal house and commonly owned land. The house is the centre of many activities, ranging from administration to celebration of festivals etc.
Guilds link vocations; pottery, weaving and fishing are typical examples while there are many who participate in the gentlemen or lady guild, commonly the elderly. Each member of a guild accepts the responsibility for looking after other members of the same guild. There are villages which can be regarded as guildsbecause of their expertise in particular things; they range from handicrafts of various types to such things as wrestling and even literature.
Visitors travelling in Vietnam and who go to villages will see plenty of activity. Whether they can identity anything beyond that activity is doubtful but perhaps a guide will explain?