Superstitions – Vietnam

“The first person who enters the house on the first day of Vietnamese New Year can bring good or bad luck to that household.  If he or she is happy and rich the whole year that household will be happy and prosperous.  Most of the time, the body of the family member who dies in Vietnamese New Year will be viewed and visited at their house or funeral home for two or three days, and at night one family member must sit and watch over the casket because they believe if a black cat jumps on or over it, that person won’t go to heaven and they’ll become a mean, violent ghost lingering here on earth.”

My mother’s younger sister, Thuy, told me about these superstitions while I was helping her prepare the food in the kitchen for our family’s big Vietnamese New Year celebration at my grandmother’s house.  As we were readying the food and setting up the table, she asked if I knew any Vietnamese superstitions regarding the New Year, and proceeded to enlighten me.  In the Vietnamese culture, as exemplified by these superstitions which my aunt picked up on from her own mother and other adult family friends, rituals surrounding the New Year are of utmost importance and not to be taken lightly.  In order to ensure a prosperous and happy new year, so many aspects must be taken care of, such as making sure that even the first person to enter the house is in a perfectly good mood—not the easiest task!  My aunt also mentioned the idea that the death of a family member must be shown a great deal of attention and care, so much that it is important for someone to be watching over the casket day and night to guard against evilness and the resurrection of a violent, Earth-bound ghost.  Evidently, these superstitions reveal a great deal about Vietnamese culture and thought.  While much of the culture is past-oriented, these superstitions mostly focus on preparations for the future to ensure that it is a successful and bright one.  The superstition about the casket proves that while family members are honored and taken care of even after death—a highly important concept in Vietnamese culture—it is also necessary to watch the casket and guard the deceased for the living’s sake.  My aunt’s superstitions still remain incredibly significant to her identity, shaping the way she lives life each day and permanently influencing her beliefs.