The wedding in VietNam

1/ Wedding in Vietnam

For more than a quarter of the twentieth century, Vietnam to the world evoked a series of wars. In fact, with a history spanning over 4,000 years and a population composed of 54 different ethnic groups, Vietnam has a very rich culture. One can find hundreds of books and research, Vietnamese and even foreign languages, this intangible heritage. There is nevertheless a subject hitherto "forgotten" by the specialists: that of marriage. Maybe because it is considered a procedure by which anyone wishing to start a family, must pass the marriage has it become something "daily", "no particular interest". In reality, a traditional Vietnamese wedding involves many steps and rites, unknown by most young people, but are part of Vietnamese cultural identity.

Trends back to the historical and cultural sources encourage people to look more and more traditions and customs of their country. Marriage, a special significance in the life of a couple, has a sharper importance and a major role in the cultural heritage treasure.

2/ The wedding of Viet

Concepts on marriage differ according to historical periods or different regions of the country. Rites also are not the same for the 54 ethnic groups saw their cultures and lifestyles. We try to present here only marriage Viet largest ethnic group in the country (85%), which was heavily influenced by Chinese culture. One can find information on marriage among ethnic minorities in the book of Pham Minh Thao. 

*/ The role of parents

In the past, parents had full powers in all matters relating to family life. It was they who decided the choice of partners for their children. In general, parents wanted (and still want) to find a good family, a standard of living than their own (or better), whose son or daughter, well educated (e), would make a perfect companion for life for their offspring. It often happened that the couple did not know before the wedding. In this case, a matchmaker served as an intermediary between the two families. 

To ensure the happiness of the young couple, and especially their children, parents showed some criteria in the choice of groom:

*/ Bride

To be a perfect wife, a girl must have four virtues Cong,Dung, Ngon, Hanh.

Cong - housework: In a Confucian society, girls are likely to perform all domestic tasks, including sewing, embroidery, weaving, knitting, animal husbandry (poultry, cattle...) with speed and efficiency without flaws. The sages said "You become rich with the help of his friends and honorable with his wife". That is why a woman was considered a general from the inside.

Dung - beauty: Despite saying "Virtue is right on beauty", nobody wants to have a deformed woman or having an unpleasant appearance. The parents wanted to find a daughter of good health to ensure the continuation of their lineage

Ngôn - Speech: The wife of the old society had no voice. In addition, she must obey her husband as her parents, choosing the right words and be polite to everyone

Hạnh - good behavior: Apart from his own family, the good wife was obliged to care for elderly parents and being on good terms with all members of his beautiful family.

*/ Groom 

The young man was more likely that the girl; we would ask him courage, good conduct and intelligence if possible (this last criterion was irrelevant in the case of farmers and people of modest family).

Tam thu, the luc - The three letters, six rites

According to ancient Chinese customs, the wedding was held in several stages with "the three letters and six rites". The three letters are written by the parents of the bridegroom and addressed to the family of the bride throughout the wedding preparation period letters. The rites are six marriage ceremonies in which young people must pass to become husband.

In the context of the feudal society, the matchmaker plays an important role in the relations between the two families. She is asking about the family of the girl, the girl herself and reports the information collected to the family of the young man. If the girl is chosen, the parents of the young man charge the matchmaker to present their intentions for the future in-laws. Therefore, the matchmaker gives a first letter serves as an introduction, expressing the intention of the young man's family to establish closer relations with the girl. With the consent of the family of the bride, the groom's family arrives at a date fixed in advance by both sides. This is the first rite, the Nap or Cham Thai Ngo, where the family of the bridegroom appore these rituals of marriage for the bride.

The second rite is the Van Danh, the exchange ceremony names before the engagement. The family of the bridegroom chose an auspicious day and once again uses the matchmaker to bring presents, accompanied by a second letter to the family of the bride to ask the name, surname and date of birth girl. These usually consist of tea, wine, pastries, betel leaves and areca nuts. Parents consult the horoscope and decide whether the two young people are made ​​for each other or not.

Cat Nap in the third rite, the altar, the two families inform the ancestors that young people can make a beautiful couple and are ready for marriage.

Came in fourth period Nap Trung, or engagement. In addition to these rituals already mentioned add jewelry for the bride, a pair of red candles engraved with a dragon (symbolizing the groom) and phoenix (for the bride), and a sum of money. These are available in round red lacquered boxes, the number of boxes must be an even number. The two candles will be lit and pitched on the ancestors' altar at the beginning of the ceremony. The money represents the contribution of the groom's family to purchase personal items for the bride and banquet on this occasion.

The third and final letter will be sent to Thinh Ky, the fifth rite, where the groom's family asks for confirmation of the date and time chosen for the main ceremony, marriage. These such as tea , wine and pastries accompany the letter.

Finally comes the most solemn and most important of all rite: the Vu Quy Than or Nghinh or marriage itself.

*/ The wedding ceremony

Marriage is more organized solemnly, the more it will have a profound and lasting significance in the lives of couples. Solemn does not mean expensive or "demonstrative". The main objective is to give moral preserving the educational traditions of the family.

The wedding ceremony consists of five steps:

*/ The official ceremony at the bride's

- / The Ruoc Dau (the ceremony where the bride is taken to the groom)

- / The official ceremony at the groom

Additional ceremonies like To Hong (according to Chinese customs, this rite has been forgotten and suppressed for a long time in Vietnam), the Giao Duyen (exchange of bows between married the wedding night) 

Phan Lai Bai or Mat (the first visit of newlyweds in the family of the joint)

The official ceremony at the bride. Contrary to the official ceremony at the groom's house, the bride, it takes place in two days. The first day is reserved for Nhom Ho, which meet all the members of the family of the bride to meet her before she went to live his new life. Are called also those living in other provinces. Parents and elderly family give advice to the bride on what she should do or not do on the wedding day as well as during her married life. 

After the meeting, organizing a

banquet on this occasion and invite friends and neighbors to come celebrate with family event. Front door of the house, an artificial dome of foliage is erected on which hung a small table decorated beautifully with both words Vu Quy (meaning that the bride goes to her husband on the wedding day) to announce to all the world the happy occasion. Guests bring gifts or money to the groom. If the groom lives in the same city or province, it may be present that day.


The morning of the second day, at the appointed time, the Delegation of the husband's family arrives at the bride, wearing full round red lacquered boxes with presents such as betel leaves, areca nuts, wine, pastries, five kinds of fruit, a pair of candles... According to tradition, it stops a few meters from the house. A crackling firecrackers welcome newcomers (for security reasons, firecrackers were banned for ten years). Then an elderly husband and a friend (or one of his brothers) project and present the tray of betel leaves and wine to the bride's parents. This rite is used to announce that the time has come to lead the bride to the groom.

In the yard or outside the house runs the exchange rite boxes of gifts between the two families. In general, the groom's side are young men who carry these boxes and transmit them to the girls side of the bride. All boxes are then deposited on a table before the altar of the ancestors. That day, the altar is decorated beautifully with flowers and fruits; sometimes also small sculptures of fresh fruit in the form of dragon and phoenix.

Meanwhile, the groom standing at the altar, holding the arm wedding bouquet. His family is invited to get to the right of the altar, on the left will be the place of the family of the bride. The floor is reserved for the groom's family to begin the ceremony. If the matchmaker is present, it is his role as the intermediary. The family of the bride give the reply. Words, phrases must be carefully chosen and represent the solemnity of the occasion. This is followed by the presentation of the members of both families present.

During these rites, the bride remains inside, in a room behind closed doors, curtain decorated with a red or pink veil. When it comes to presentation, the bride leaves the room, tilts his head slightly to greet the two families and will be accompanied by her mother to the altar, beside the groom. So, it gives him the wedding bouquet and candle lighting ritual is undertaken on the altar, as the engagement ceremony. The father of the bride burning incense and invokes the ancestors as witnesses to the ceremony. After the mother of the groom gives the bride jewelry (chain with locket, earrings, bracelets, all in gold and can be inlaid with precious stones). The exchange of rings between the bride and groom marks the moment when young people are recognized spouses before the two families.

To conclude the ceremony, the newlyweds prostration before the altar is a solemn occasion and a great importance. This means they ask the ancestors to show their desire to establish a new family, whose leader - husband - is responsible. It is committed to guide and safeguard the lives of his wife until his death.

Ruoc Dau City, cars are used to carry the bride to her husband. In the countryside, the displacement means are different: the boats, sampans, the carts pulled by oxen or horses... everything is possible depending on local conditions. In all cases, the vehicle for married is decorated with flowers, ribbons of bright color (usually red or pink, or yellow). The charge transporting the family of the bride rests with the groom's family. Sisters or cousins, friends of the bride bring her bags of clothing or personal belongings to his new home. 

The official ceremony at the groom. In principle, the ceremony is almost like at the bride, but of course without exchange of gifts, rings and jewelry. After the ceremony , the bride sits for a moment, refreshes and offer betel leaves and areca nuts to her elderly in-laws. A lunch or dinner, the groom's parents organized a great feast in honor of the marriage of their children. It also invites some members of the family of the bride. 

Giao Duyen: The ritual act of exchange of bows between the spouses takes place in the bridal chamber. Husband shares with his wife betel leaves offered to the ancestral altar during the morning ceremony , then pours wine into a glass and drink it both spouses each half.

Phan Bai: Three days after the wedding, the couple returns to visit the parents of the spouse. In the North, the spouses bring sticky rice and stewed liquid to be present. South, was replaced by wine, tea, pastries, fruit in some provinces it will be two ducks.

Wedding suits: Formerly married had to wear the national costume with variations for each region or province. Today, the groom wears the European dress. Sometimes it leans the "ao dai" traditional demand of the bride's parents for rituals at the altar. The "ao dai" is preferred by the bride to the ceremony because he argues femininity and allure of the wearer. During the banquet, prom dresses or European suits are more common. 

*/ The preservation and enhancement of the marriage rites

Acculturation and modernization attended simplify wedding customs in Vietnam. Currently, there are three steps: Nap or Cham Thai Ngo Trung Nap or engagement, and Vu Quy or marriage. For some low-income families, we agree to combine the last two rites, betrothal and marriage in one day.

The Vietnamese Constitution proclaims that all citizens have exceeded eighteen is free to contract marriage. This is why the role of parents these days is limited to the consent given and the advice given to their children. The traditional matchmaker, losing its importance is replaced by agencies or dating clubs. 

Despite the changes, the Vietnamese are trying to preserve the customs and traditions long established by their ancestors, eliminating backward habits and replace them with more appropriate rites to modern life. Youth education means that parents imbued with the soul and the cultural identity of our people through its traditions.

As part of the intangible heritage of the country, marriage has characteristics that must be taken seriously by those who are interested. The oral transmission, which helps to spread the cultural wealth of different layers of the population, makes the preservation and recovery more difficult. Mr. Nguyen Chi Ben, specialist and researcher in History of Arts and Cultures Vietnamese, said: "One solution seems to be the socialization of these activities (the preservation and promotion of intangible cultural assets - Note XLVS)... One of the most common ways is writing this is to say, copy and edit. on this side, we did a lot of things. Especially for the treasure of folklore... the problem is that despite the fact very positive writing and publishing, there are still other ways, particularly at a time when high-speed develop the information technology and communication. example a series of films on video cassettes with parties of people in Vietnam, the "Heris" (the Gia Rai), or "heaumier" (the Banas) is very necessary and very effective for the preservation of intangible cultural treasure". 

Preserve and promote the traditional Vietnamese wedding in favor of tourism, is an even more difficult task. How to understand foreign tourists all the nuances of different rites of marriage, the solemnity greetings exchanged between spouses or the bridal night before the altar of the ancestors? A simple statement is not enough. Could we offer a special tour entitled "ceremonies (or rites) Vietnamese wedding", where tourists could participate in a real marriage with a guide - connoisseur - able to answer all questions asked by tourists? The publication of a CD- ROM wedding ceremonies can be help to better present this cultural heritage treasure? The answer is reserved for specialists, tour operators and tourists themselves as major players in the cultural tourism.




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