Now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, this land is south of China with a long coastline bordering the South China Sea. It had once been a French colony. There were three regions: northern, central and southern. All the people preferred to be known as Vietnamese. The ethnic Vietnamese also refer to themselves as kinh, meaning “lowlanders,” as opposed to highland “tribes-people.”
There are hills and mountains across the country and most Vietnamese live in the lowland plains. There are about 55 million ethnic Vietnamese. In looking at Vietnamese genealogy since 1975, many people of Vietnamese descent are found in most Western countries, including the United States, France, Australia, and Canada.
Vietnamese is a monosyllabic and tonal language of composite origin. It is blended from Mon-Khmer (Austroasiatic) along with elements from the Tai and Sinitic languages. Much of the vocabulary has been borrowed from the Chinese, especially the Cantonese form.
Looking at Vietnamese genealogy, in northern and central Vietnam, family lineage through the father has been the dominant form, with emphasis on hierarchy and solidarity. In the southern region there is most of a shared lineage of mother and father family. Overall, there has been a strengthened the nuclear family.
Vietnamese households can average from five to seven individuals, but they vary greatly in size. Most consist of a nuclear family, often supplemented with one or more other close relatives, and function as a single economic unit, sharing the work and resources.
The popular Vietnamese religion is a mixture of ritual and belief derived from animist, Confucianism, Taoist, and Buddhist faiths. Admiration of one’s ancestors is a very important part of the Vietnamese culture. Beliefs in astrology and the intervention of spirits in human life are all widespread.
About 5 million Vietnamese are Roman Catholics. Many Vietnamese are nominally Buddhists, but active members of organized Buddhist churches probably number only 3 or 4 million. This same trend continued even when a Vietnamese family moved to another country like the United States, an interesting note in Vietnamese genealogy. In rural Vietnam, Buddhist monks are found in many villages. They do not automatically command high respect or exert influence in village affairs, although some may achieve these privileges.
Village guardian spirits were once important cult figures, but now less so. People who die violent deaths are thought to linger as angry spirits and bring misfortune if not propitiated. There are many categories of malevolent or potentially malevolent spirits, among them ghosts (ma), and demons (guy).
Vietnamese food included fish sauce, which is placed on many dishes. Also, rice, fruits and vegetables are served. Many diverse herbs will be mixed in, including lemongrass, mint and Thai basil leaves. Beef, pork chicken and fish are the common meats served. Due to the influence of the Buddhist customs most of the Vietnamese dishes are vegetarian in nature. Traditional Vietnamese cooking is greatly admired for freshness of the ingredients and for the healthy eating style.< Return To Culture