The History of Traditional Vietnamese Family Life

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In 2879 BCE, the Hong Bang Dynasty begins when the first Hung King unites the tribes under one rule. The armies of China’s Han Dynasty in conquered Vietnam in 111 BC. In 500 BCE, The Vietnamese New Year, called Tet, is first celebrated. Not until 939 AD that the Vietnamese were able to expel the Chinese and begin southward domination that, by the mid-18th century, had reached the Gulf of Siam. The idea of Buddhism and Confucianism was carried over by the Chinese during this time. In the first century, the Trung Sister Rebellion occurs against the Chinese Rule. In, 938 AD Ngo Quyen defeated the Chinese and gained independence for Vietnam. Vietnam was then ruled by a succession of dynasties including the Dinh, Ho, Le, Ly, Tran, and the Nguyen dynasty. The Nguyen Dynasty was the last to rule over Vietnam.

In 1858 the French came to Vietnam and made it a French colony. In 1930, Ho Chi Minh forms a communist party and defeated France. Later, the Viet Minh seize control of Northern Vietnam and declare independence. The Northern Vietnamese launches the Tet Offensive, where they surprise attack South Vietnam and took over. The country became divided into Communist North Vietnam and the anti-Communist South. The Vietnam War raged for years between the two countries with the US supporting the South and communist countries supporting the north. The North eventually won uniting the nation under communist rule in 1975 and renamed “Saigon” to “Ho Chi Minh City”.

Vietnam is a Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin, and the South China Sea, as well as China, Laos, and Cambodia. This makes it the easternmost country of the Indochina Peninsula. Various regions are affected by different climate and weather change. In the south, it is more tropical and monsoonal in north with the hot, rainy season. In mid-May to mid-September, the weather is warm and in mid-October to mid-March the weather. The most predominant religion is Vietnamese folk religion with 73.1% of the population, following by Buddhism with 12.2%, Roman Catholic with 6.9%, Caodaism with 4.8%, and 3.0% being other religions. The main language that is spoken in the country is Vietnamese. 85.7% of Vietnam’s ethnicity is Vietnamese. The rest of the percentage of people are from the border countries.

The country’s origin name is the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Vietnam is a developing nation, meaning that it is one of south-east Asia’s fastest-growing economies and has set its sights on becoming a developed nation by 2020. According to the World Health Organization’s recorded data, its total population is 97 million. Currently, 70% of the population is under 35 years of age, with an emerging middle class. Vietnam has a communist government. It is one of the five remaining communist countries in the world today. The president, Nguyen Phu Trong is the head of the republic, and the prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc is the head of the government.

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Vietnam is the second largest rice exporter in the world (behind Thailand). Due to the vast amount of rice paddy along the Red River Delta and the Mekong River Delta, the nation does not have a rice shortage. Rice is a basic staple in the diet to ensure food security. Although most of the population is food secured, there is a large number of people in the mountainous who lack income that is impoverished and cannot afford food. Drought plays a role in this occurring issue. Temperatures with reach to 104 Fahrenheit degrees. Vietnam has improved in its water security system. According to WHO, 98% of Viet Nam’s more than 90 million residents have access to improved drinking water sources and 78% of the population uses toilets and latrines that meet international standards by using the WHO guidelines. Though Vietnam has improved its water supply situation in the past few decades, rural areas in Hanoi have not improved. Due to the polluted river, the rural areas are facing arsenic-contaminated drinking water. The rural population has moved from using surface water from shallow dug wells to groundwater pumped from private tube wells.

Vietnam has a universal healthcare system. The healthcare system in Vietnam combines aspects of Eastern and Western medicine. There are both private and public hospitals where most Vietnamese citizens have to pay for medical services themselves. According to Vietnamese Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, most preventive services are free, such as; immunizations, hygiene, nutrition, mother and child health care. This makes accessing health facilities for public health prevention easier for people. All children receive a uniform battery of pediatric vaccinations. The healthcare system goes by the WHO program for pediatric vaccinations which are funded by the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund, and the Vietnamese government. Over 99% of children are vaccinated. This shows that the nation has a strong healthcare system.

There has been a vast amount of progress made by improving the health status of the population. Children who are stunted under 5 years of age is 7.2 million. Major strengths are malnutrition, underweight, and stunting rate has declined. The WHO Nutrition Landscape Profile shows a 40 percent reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted while reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5 percent. There is a great increase in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50 percent. Overweight and obesity issue has inclined due do food globalization, but the country has one of the lowest adult obesity rates. A major concern is that lack of focus on physical activity. According to the Ministry of Health, one-third of Vietnamese people have physical inactivity and do not practice physical exercises. The traditional Vietnamese health culture is different from the Western’s. The Vietnamese The government encourages children to drink milk more than exercising. A present issue in Vietnam is drinking and smoking. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one in four lights up a cigarette regularly in Vietnam. This could be from the lack of health awareness and the influenced of social pressure.

The main staples in Vietnam are rice, noodles, and leafy greens. Healthy herbs are almost every incorporated in every meal. Fish sauce and soy sauce is often used in the meals. Fish sauce does not have a pleasant smell but it gives enhances the taste of the dish. Vietnamese use minimal or dairy and oil in their dish, but focus more on the different herbs and spices. “Banh” in Vietnamese means cake or bread, therefore many dishes start with the word “Banh”. Some of the dishes are French influenced such as Banh Mi, a baguette sandwich filled with different flavors. A filling of a pork liver pate, Vietnamese pork cold cut called Cha Lua, pickled radish and carrot, cuts of cucumber and mayonnaise. “Banh” means cake or bread. Another popular French influenced dish is Pho, a hearty beef noodle dish. It is made with bone-beef broth, banh pho noodles, and thinly sliced beef, that’s often served with bean sprouts and other fresh herbs on the side. Next, Banh Xeo, a crisp, savory crepe which often comes served stuffed with cooked meats, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs. The word “Xeo” is the nose the oil makes when a individual put the batter on the cooking pan. A staple drink in the culture is Cafe Sua Da, a Vietnamese iced coffee. A medium to dark roast coffee added to a coffee drip filter and sweetened with condensed milk.

Vietnamese life revolves around the family. Their way of eating is family style. When it comes to eating together, there is always a savory dish that individuals can eat with rice and along with a vegetable green soup. It is common for three generations to be living together under one roof. The father is the head of the family, he is responsible to provide the food, shelter, and make important decisions. In Vietnamese culture, Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) is a superstitious time for families. For example, take the time to clean the house and altar, do not borrow money, ‘ghost money’ for ancestors, and there are many more superstitions. A tradition in the culture is Vietnamese believe that after someone dies their spirit lives on. Descendents will “worship” their ancestors to ensure their good favor. They do this by praying and setting out food on the altars. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) often used in Vietnam. Alternative health approaches such as traditional Chinese medicine and oriental medicine. Traditional medicines are more commonly used in the countryside. Most Vietnamese tends to lean towards home remedies first before going to the doctors. There are a couple of religious beliefs that impact one’s nutritional. Fasting is often used in Roman Catholicism. Individuals fast during Lent. Another religion is Buddhism, restrictions such as abstaining from meat on Wednesday and Fridays or even follow vegetarian diets.

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