Tradition plays a huge part in Vietnamese life. It has done for many, many centuries. The Chinese controlled this part of Indochina for many years and brought with them their philosophies and ethics. Confucius was seen as a guiding light and it was from him that the family structure was enshrined. Confucius held many things dear in relation to human behaviour and how it should be guided in relation to the family. He said that no matter what an individual achieved in life, his or her respect for family and ancestors was primary. Perhaps the first thing that anyone taking a tour in Vietnam should remember is that respect is essential. That is respect for other people and their culture, religion and traditions. If you are enjoying a Vietnam travel package, wherever you go you can be certain that the locals know what is important in life, family and traditional values.
At each stage in life, every Vietnamese person will know his or her position within the family. There may be four generations surviving, and even living in the family home while on a regular basis the family will pay their respects to ancestors in the form of offerings at the altar in the home or the local temple. Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, is a typical occasion when this is done.
Everyone in the family has a defined role which is likely to change as they grow older. Each of these roles through life are accepted without question. The ancestors are never taken for granted. It is they that have created life for the family and they deserve thanks for that. The anniversary of the death of an ancestor (Tran) remains a very important day.
The male is still regarded as superior; the head of the family is seen as the current provider of everything, even if he has reached an age where he now longer does any manual work. He will never have cooked in his life or worked in any way in the kitchen. It does not necessarily mean the head of a family is a dictator and a wise head would seek and heed advice without his position being weakened. It does mean that every family to desperate to have a son; superstition has it that if there is no son, the family will disappear forever no matter how many daughters there may be and subsequent children.
When a woman marries, she will become dependent upon her husband and his family. She becomes housewife and mother for her children and even grandchildren. Divorce is possible but frowned upon. Discipline and physical punishment is justifiable on occasions and thought of as a sign of care and concern, not abuse.
While some of the traditional values in Vietnam may be regarded as outdated, there is a strong argument that tourists enjoying a Vietnam package will observe things that they might still wish were the norm at home. There is plenty of food for thought in Vietnam.