5 unique customs of the ethnic groups in Vietnam

You will be surprised with the unique customs in the Lunar New Year, welcoming lucky things of the ethnic groups of Vietnam.

Catching husband in the Central Highlands

From the first days of the Lunar New Year to the third lunar month every year is the busy wedding season in the Central Highlands. This wedding season originates from the custom of catching the husband of Chu Ru ethnic girls.

churu wedding
In the Chu Ru Wedding, people of girl’s family wears ring for the boy. Photo: vnexpress

If other ethnic groups think that the groom’s family must be the first to ask for a wedding, it is the complete opposite for Chu Ru. The girl’s family will take the initiative to ask to marry the boy that the girl loves.

According to the custom of the village, when a girl likes a certain boy, she will express her wishes to her family. When night falls, the girl and 10 family members will bring gifts to the boy’s house. The gift will depend on the situation of the bride’s family. When going to the groom’s house, the girl’s uncle will represent the delegation to send wishes to the boy’s family. If the boy’s parents agree, they will call their son to come and ask his idea before marrying the girl’s family.

After receiving the consent of both parties, the girl will give her own knitted scarf to the boy and the two will officially become husband and wife. The marriage ceremony will take place immediately after. During the ceremony, the boy and the girl will wear a scarf. Finally, between 1 and 2 am, the couple will be taken to the bride’s house and have a relationship from here.

In case the guy doesn’t agree with the girl from the first time asking to marry, the girl will return to the guy’s house 7 days later until she can get it. It can be said that the custom of catching a husband is indeed a very unique culture of the Chu Ru ethnic group in the Central Highlands.

Patting the butt to confess is H’mong custom

The custom of patting the butt to confess is an indispensable activity at the Sai San Spring Festival, also known as Gau Tao. This is one of the most important festivals of the year for the Mong people, held on the occasion of the Lunar New Year.

clapping the butt to say love
Patting the butt to say love. Photo: dantocmiennui.vn

The Sai San Festival is held for the purpose of praying for good fortune and luck. This association has been preserved intact from ancient times to the present day.

According to this custom, if a H’Mong boy falls in love with a girl, he will immediately pat that girl’s butt on the road to the spring festival. If the girl also likes the guy, she will pat the guy’s butt in return. Just two sides slapping back and forth 9 times means that they have become a couple.

In fact, the H’mong male and female couples are destined not by accident to find each other, but often by prior understanding. Participating in the butt-slapping custom is an opportunity for two people to meet again and express their affection for each other for a lifetime.

Stealing for good luck of the Red Dao people

If other ethnic groups in Vietnam consider theft at the beginning of the year will lead to bad luck for the whole year, the Red Dao people have the custom of stealing for good luck to welcome the new year.

On every full moon night of the first lunar month, the Red Dao people will gather in groups to steal. Everyone from old, young, girl, boy, cadre, or citizen can participate in this special custom.

Not all things can be stolen. The most favorite things that the Red Dao people choose to steal are eggs, onion stalks, spring onion leaves, kitchen buffalo meat, wine, or a bunch of wild vegetables.

stealing habit in dao do
Stealing a few vegetable or onion stalks to get good luck. Photo: toquoc.vn

According to the custom of celebrating the Lunar New Year of the Red Dao people, the more people steal, the more luck they will have that year. However, if the owner finds out, he will immediately be punished for drinking a bowl of alcohol.

After the game is over, the thief will bring the stolen items back to the owner and wait for the reward. So, this activity can be considered a spring game more than stealing.

Awakening cattle to celebrate Tet of Lo Lo

For ethnic minorities, livestock is an important part of the family’s economy. Therefore, the custom of waking up cattle and welcoming the New Year is an indispensable New Year custom of the Lo Lo ethnic group.

lo lo girl in Vietnam
Lo Lo girls wear colorful clothes to start joining festivals. Photo: bienphong.com.vn

When the new year comes, at the moment the first rooster crows in the village, the Lo Lo people will wake up all the livestock in the house to welcome the new year with the whole family. In addition, they will also do an offering ceremony at home to wish them good luck for the new year.

Another special thing during Tet of the Lo Lo people is that the farm tools will be painted red or yellow. People will not touch them during the 3 days of Tet to prove that Tet is an occasion to rest before starting a new year of hard work.

Worshiping a bowl of water of Pa Then

Pa Then is an ethnic group living mainly in the mountains of Ha Giang, Northern Vietnam. To celebrate the Lunar New Year, Pa Then people worship a bowl of water.

water bowl
Worshiping a water bowl. Photo: thoidai.com.vn

The bowl of water will be placed on the altar in each family. And the owner never allows the water in the bowl to run dry.

On New Year’s Eve, Pa Then people will close the door and block all the ventilation holes in the house. At this time, the owner of the house will discreetly lower the old bowl of water and clean it carefully. Then add new water to welcome a spring that is about to knock.

The reason this work is done in secret is that according to Pa Then, if someone outside of the house sees the sacred water bowl being cleaned or changed, that family will have a lot of bad luck in the new year.


The traditional habits become the beautiful cultural features of Vietnamese people. Also, the unique customs of the ethnic groups enrich the spiritual life in Vietnam.

Traveling to this country and learning more about these customs will be an exciting activity during your holidays in Vietnam.

>>> Read more: If you like to see or train unique exercises, please check the Vietnamese martial arts.

About the author

HueFlavor

Editor at HueFlavor is a15-year local guide, Mr. Ho Thom, who loves local food in Hue as well as in Vietnam. Trusted by hundreds of guests around the world.