Vietnamese Culture

Other Considerations

  • It can be difficult to read Vietnamese emotions as some situations have predetermined reactions expected by cultural norms. For example, a bride is traditionally meant to exhibit sadness on her wedding day as it means she is moving away from her parents.
  • Older Vietnamese may not ask for help unless it becomes a final resort when all other options have been exhausted. If asked to assist someone, it can be worth bearing this in mind before refusing to complete the favour.
  • In Vietnam, people dress quite modestly. For example, shorts and skirts usually reach the knee.
  • White headbands and armbands are customarily only worn at funerals.
  • Some men may grow a single long fingernail to indicate they are in the middle class and not a manual worker/peasant.
  • Vietnamese babies are considered to be one year old when they are born. This makes the reckoning of age different for the Vietnamese.
  • Most men in Vietnam smoke cigarettes. There is also a high prevalence of gambling and drinking as these are seen as social bonding activities for men.

The Vietnamese can be quite superstitious. There are many taboos and omens that people look out for and try to avoid. Some acts of daily life are approached with trepidation as they can recall or trigger ‘thần’, devils and spirits. Some cultural beliefs relate to the way a house is designed or decorated. Other common superstitions are based on the idea that the success of endeavours is dictated by the way they begin. For example, what happens to you on New Year’s Day is thought to determine the year ahead. Therefore, people may actively avoid those who could bring bad luck, taboo objects or situations.

More specific superstitions generally vary significantly among regions and families. Some examples include:
  • Put mirrors in front of doors to scare away dragons.
  • If the first person you see on your way to do business is a woman, you will have bad luck on your business trip and should try another day.
  • Praising a newborn too much can cause the devils to steal it for its desirability.
  • Eating a duck fetus egg can reverse bad luck. However, this only works in odd numbers as eating a second egg after receiving good luck can bring bad luck again.
  • If there are pictures of horses in a home or restaurant, the images should be positioned to make it look like the horses are running into the building, not out the door. This symbolises prosperity and wealth coming into the building.
  • Numbers: The Vietnamese believe the number 9 brings luck. 8 is also considered lucky. The 1 and 8 of 18, adding up to 9, are considered auspicious.
  • Colours: White, black, purple and green have negative connotations of death, evil, sadness/fragility and jealousy, respectively. Red is the luckiest colour. Yellow also has particularly happy connotations.

Generally, expatriate Vietnamese who speak English and are acculturated to Australia will not believe these superstitions. However, many born in Vietnam do. Many life events are planned around Vietnamese fortune telling. For example, people try to time births, weddings and events to fall on particularly auspicious years or dates. This often relates to astrology.
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  • Population
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Language
    Tiếng Việt (official)
    Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian
  • Religion
    No Religion or Traditional Folk Religions (81.8%)
    Buddhism (7.9%)
    Christianity (7.4%)
    Hoahaoism (1.6%)
    Caodaism (0.9%)
    Other (0.2%)
    [Census, 2009]
    Note: The United Nations and polling organisations believe these statistics from the 2009 Vietnamese census do not accurately reflect the spiritual landscape of Vietnam.
  • Ethnicity
    Kinh [Viet] (85.7%)
    Tay (1.9%)
    Thai (1.8%)
    Muong (1.5%)
    Khmer (1.5%)
    Mong (1.2%)
    Nung (1.1%)
    Hoa (1.0%)
    Other (4.3%)
    [Census, 2009]
    Note: 54 ethnic groups are recognised by the Vietnamese Government.
  • Cultural Dimensions
  • Australians with Vietnamese Ancestry
    294,798 [Census, 2016]
Vietnamese in Australia
  • Population
    [Census, 2016]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Vietnam.
  • Median Age
    45 [Census, 2016]
  • Gender
    Male (44.7%)
    Female (55.3%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Religion
    Buddhism (47.3%)
    No Religion (24.6%)
    Catholic Christianity (20.2%)
    Other Religion (3.8%)
    Not Stated (3.9%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Ancestry
    Vietnamese (75.8%)
    Chinese (19.5%)
    English (2.1%)
    Australian (1.3%)
    Other Ancestry (1.3%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    Vietnamese (82.7%)
    Cantonese (10.2%)
    English (3.9%)
    Mandarin (1.0%)
    Other Language (1.4%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 58.0% speak English fluently.
    [Census, 2016]
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (38.4%)
    Victoria (36.8%)
    Queensland (8.9%)
    Western Australia (7.2%)
    Other (8.2%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Arrival
    Prior to 2007 (71.0%)
    2007 - 2011 (11.4%)
    2012 - 2016 (13.8%)
    [Census, 2016]
Country Flag Country Vietnam