Vietnam is a Buddhist country but that does not mean that the people do not value many other things as well; this includes spiritualism which has no place in rational thought yet guides action. It may have such strength within the people in remote regions because of the lack of formal education yet superstition has a role to play in many societies. The Continent of Asia is known for its legends and superstitions and Vietnam is no exception. They have a role in daily life, and certainly when it comes to selecting a day for a wedding, a funeral, opening a business or a house, most Vietnamese will look at dates without a rational basis. Here are some instances when spiritualism comes into play; if you have yet to take a Vietnam tour package, remember them and see if you notice this as you travel in Vietnam:
Let us look at the traditions of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. It is superstition that results in people not wanting an uninvited guest or a woman to be first to enter the house because it will result in bad luck in the coming year. There are a number of traditions in Tet that have little basis in rational thought yet no Vietnam family appears prepared to break from tradition.
No one wants to cross the path of a woman when planning something new; the opposite from in Western countries when crossing the path of a black cat is regarded as lucky.
Everyone takes care to respect and look after older family members. In addition, food offerings are placed by the altar in the home for ancestors to enjoy a meal with everyone else.
What’s in a Number?
Well sometimes it stops a wedding if the girl involved appears to have been born in the wrong year; it is taken as a sign of incompatibility. Someone born in the ‘’Year of the Tiger’’ risks breaking family ties, ancestors and all, if he insists on marrying someone born in the ‘’Year of the Horse.’’ Conservatives would even today say that bad luck is the inevitable outcome.
People often act based upon a number; buy a lottery ticket on a lucky number date but avoid doing anything on a bad number day. If you find out the lucky numbers while on a tour of Vietnam, then perhaps buy a ticket?
An owl hoot is believed to be bad luck for anyone that hears it. It is an ancient belief but owls will still be chased away and those who have heard the owl will be very careful in the coming weeks.
Older people still tend to believe that a charm or necklace can protect a child from ill-health and misfortune.
Those who claim to be able to see into the future do well in Vietnam. They may read palms or use astrology and even the poor sometimes save in order to afford a consultation. There is even a story of a USA military commander consulting an astrologer during the War in order to be able to anticipate what the enemy might do based upon Vietnamese beliefs. Whether it did any good no one knows but it is a nice story.
There are some who believe that spiritualism is harming the country in the 21st Century. It is difficult to envisage it being abandoned and there isn’t a single fortune-teller or soothsayer that expects it to happen.
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