• 3 Do's and 4 Don'ts For Vietnamese Funerals

3 Do's and 4 Don'ts For Vietnamese Funerals

You’ve been invited to a Vietnamese funeral and have no idea about the proper etiquette. What should you bring? What should you wear? Read on to find the answers to these questions.

Funerals are events that you would prefer not to ever have to experience. Depending on where you’re from, they can either be viewed as a sad event or a celebration.

Here in Vietnam, there are certain age-old practices and routines that you may not yet be aware of. Take note of these rules and suggestions to make sure you remain respectful and beyond reproach during this delicate mourning period

First 3 things you should do to be appreciated

1. Bring along a gift or money
This is an absolute sign of paying respect to the lost member of the family. You can choose to order a solemn funeral flower wreath to be made and sent over to the site of the mourning family when the funeral starts to take place. Depending on the religion, age, marital and social statuses of the loved one, as well as the regional culture, different shapes of the wreath, as well as types and colors of flowers are used. For example, white flowers are dedicated to young and unmarried people while violet and yellow flowers are for older ones. Other than that, a small envelope with a sum of money inside is usually applied by the attendees to show their honor and help the unfortunate family cover the cost of the funeral.
Vietnamese funeral flowers
Sending funeral flowers to express your condolences

2. Dress in black or white
Avoid putting on bright, skimpy clothes to a mourning family. If you are a part of the host family, you may be expected to wear white, otherwise, black would definitely the best option. The reason why white clothes are applied in East Asian countries is that they believe it will earn merit for the deceased and the family.
 
3. Odd numbers get rid of bad luck
This might seem a little bizarre for some of you as foreign visitors but as a part of Vietnamese history and culture, certain procedures are carried out in odd numbers. For instance, when lighting incense, a person will pick from one, three to five sticks, while three being the most ideal. Such a rule is also used in case you take a bow down in front of the casket.
In order to explain such traditional taboo, we Vietnamese believe that the odd numbers are referred to as “a lucky sign” at any funerals. Nevertheless, do not tend to apply the rule at any other time as it may lead to being considered macabre or bringing bad luck.

Now here are 4 things you should NOT do at a funeral in Vietnam:

1. Do Not Attend if You’re Pregnant:
The Vietnamese believe that during cremation, the spirit of the deceased is freed from the body and may enter the unborn.

2. Do Not Smile:
This may seem like a no-brainer but it is very important to note that funerals in Vietnam are a sombre event. Therefore, it is best to avoid smiling or laughter as it will be considered extremely rude.

3. Do Not Make Any Noise:
Be as silent as possible and speak only when spoken to. Keep your volume low and ensure your phone is set to silent. The last thing you want is to attract unwanted attention to yourself, especially when you’re a guest.

Watch how the other local attendees behave at the funeral and just follow what they do. Most of the time they will guide you on the steps and procedures so you will have nothing to worry about.

4. Do Not Light Incenseif You’re Menstruating:
Another one that may seem odd to a non-Asian. It is believed that lighting incense while you’re menstruating will bring bad luck to the deceased. What you can do, alternatively, is to stand in front of the coffin, hold your palms together and bow your head an odd number of times.

If you are not from an Asian ethnic background, our advice above can be super useful in case you happen to be invited to a funeral in the country. Some of the rules are still widely applied in other Asian countries. Thus, adopt this new Vietnam history and culture and avoid feeling lost.

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