Thanh Minh (Day of the Dead)


Like the other cultures of the world, all Vietnam festivals and events are dedicated to something or somebody. They are celebrated to worship deities, to honor their ancestors and also to respect the kings of Vietnam who have played vital roles in both cultural and industrial development and in shaping the country as it stands today. One such occasion where they remember their ancestors is the Thanh Minh (Day of the Dead).

The Thanh Minh (Day of the Dead), Vietnam is celebrated on the third lunar month. During this festival people visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects. The graves are cleaned, and foods and flowers are offered and incense sticks are lighted. In the ancient times the king himself presided over the ceremony as it was regarded as one of the main rituals of the royal court. The importance of the festival can be interpreted by the fact that the proceedings of the festival were recorded in the book of royal rituals. On the first day of the Thanh Minh period the king conducted the ritual dedicated to his ancestors. Since the peasants’ families did not strictly follow the calendar, the first three days of the third month was set as the time for the ceremony.

The Thanh Minh (Day of the Dead) was not only a day to honor the ancestors but it also became an occasion for the members of the clan to regroup. Today most of the graves are made of brick or concrete, therefore, they do not require weeding, but the family members of the deceased do visit the grave to offer food and flower and burn incense sticks.