There are many peoples in the world that firmly believe it is important to show respect for elders. There are many ways in which that manifests itself though arguably some of the top developed nations are not doing enough for an ever-increasing elderly population. Life expectancy is slowly increasing. At one time, ‘’old’’ was applied to someone who today would be regarded as middle-aged, even early middle-aged. When you are travelling in Vietnam you will see that village life can be hard.
40 has become 50
In Vietnam, the elderly get and deserve great respect. The age of 40 used to be the dividing line; beyond 40 people were regarded as old. Way back in the Tran Dynasty, one of the emperors actually abdicated to become a Buddhist monk on attaining the age of 40. These days, village custom defines a 50 year-old as ‘’old.’’ He no longer needs to work within the village or hold any official position. However, he will be invited to sit on mats with a red border whenever there is a festival. There is no resentment from anyone that someone is no longer required to work. Everyone believes that they have done sufficient, no matter how many years they live subsequently. If you are lucky enough to be on a Vietnam tour package when there are special events or festivals, you may be able to see for yourself.
Celebrate new milestones
Ceremonies are regularly organised for parents and grandparents as they get older, 70, 80 and even 90. These are celebrations of longevity, often taking place during Tet, Vietnamese New Year, or on their birthdays. Vietnamese people do not need an excuse to celebrate.
Women are not forgotten; in every village women of 70 or 80 will be given red dresses and other gifts. Those on a Vietnam travel packages may be lucky enough to be able to photograph a brightly dressed old lady in one of the villages they visit. There is not much for women to celebrate compared to men so this red dress is regarded as very special by the women who receive one.
The teachings of Confucius
The basis of respect for elders is within the ethics of Confucius; the philosophy of the extended family was embraced by the Vietnamese two thousand years ago. When you are travelling in Vietnam, you will be able to observe the respect given to the elderly. Vietnam travel packages aim to show clients both the major landmarks but also local people and their daily lives. Confucius believed that in order to ‘’achieve human perfection’’ people needed to respect, and even revere, their ancestors. The family remains close and even though some members move away, from village to city, they will always return for special occasions such as Tet, Vietnam’s New Year. At that time, one of the traditions is the distribution of ‘’lucky money’’ in red envelopes to children but also to the elderly.
After a lovely holiday travelling in Vietnam, you may go home with higher expectations.