My V = Vietnam Days

Photo: Anvi Hoàng

 —– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Once upon a time, an American friend asked me: “I have been to China and Korea and I can see special things about those cultures that set them apart. Yet, I cannot say the same about Vietnamese culture. What is characteristic of Vietnamese culture?” I was dumbfounded. I am a Vietnamese and have never thought about that all my life. I am sure there are special things in Vietnamese culture that make it what it is, but at that moment I only remembered mumbling something insignificant. For a while, I blamed myself for not appreciating Vietnamese culture enough to brag about it on the spot. Yet, in earnest, people see what they want to see. If my friend could not see beautiful things in Vietnamese culture when they visited the country just because they let their prejudice or biases blind them, there is not much I could do.

Over time, I have learned to appreciate Vietnamese culture anew through a lens unfiltered and uncontaminated by opinion from people around me. I have learned not to let the past drag me down, and to focus instead on the present and future of Vietnamese culture drawing myself into the landscape actively painting whatever I want to see in its future.

I have come up with an unfinished list of things about Vietnamese culture I’d love to celebrate. Then I imagine if I were in Vietnam, I would organize special days for get-together. The fact is life in Vietnam is peaceful and relaxed in ways Americans would crave for. Vietnamese people get-together every week or every other week. That is one way for them to de-stress among themselves without resorting to counseling. Now to make those meetings even more exciting, I would create this game I call “V = Vietnam Days” so that we can savor one Vietnamese thing at a gathering.

One thing I miss tremendously living in the US is an opportunity to wear áo dài. So the first and original meetng of all would be the day we all show up in áo dài. Men have their áo dài version as well called áo the. As one áo dài day is not enough, we would follow up with still other áo dài days each time enjoying them in different interesting materials. You could see below and judge for yourself.

Hà Đông Silk Day. Some history here.

Thái Tuấn Silk Day. Video here.

Thổ Cẩm Day. Thổ Cẩm is expensive material as it is hand-made and hand-woven from a to z. Photos here.

Thổ Cẩm Dress Day. Photos here.

Áo Tứ Thân Day. History here. Photos here. See beautiful Vietnamese women in the old time wearing Áo Dài and Áo Tứ Thân in these photos.

Áo Bà Ba Day. Read here. Photos here.

Made-in-Vietnam T-shirt Day.

Ca Trù Day. Read here. Listen here. Watch and listen to an extensive documentary about ca trù here.

Vietnamese Short Films Day. Watch here.

Vietnamese Theater Day.

Hát Chèo Day. Read here. Watch and listen here.

Chầu Văn Day. Read here. Listen and watch here.

Hát Xẩm Day. Read here. Listen and watch here.

Đờn Ca Tài Tử Day. Listen and watch here.

Cải Lương Day. Read here. Listen and watch here.

Vietnamese Folktales Day.

Huế Food Day.

Hà Nội Food Day.

Sài Gòn Food Day.

Củ Chi Tunnel Day. Read here.

And list can go on.


  1. I would also like to add that there are SO many fascinating things happening (in my mind) as I move between the two languages. THIS is the most interesting matter of all I would like to write about sometime.

  2. Thanks for reading, Audrey. Yes, my Vietnamese and English versions are always similar but never the same. I make sure I deliver the same message but am aware that I am addressing two completely different groups of readers. I think in Vietnamese when I write in Vietnamese and I think in English when I write in English. I go to where I can deliver my message the most effective way I can in each culture.

  3. How interesting, this article is so different in tone from the Vietnamese article.
    The links were very interesting. Thanks;)

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