Vm-map“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

This month we are exploring Vietnam. Vietnam is an s-shaped country in Southeast Asia. It has an estimated 90 million inhabitants. The name Vietnam was adopted in 1802 to Emperor Gia Long and again in 1945 by Ho Chi Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Officially it is the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The capital is Hanoi since the reunification of the North and South in 1976. For over a millennium Vietnam was under Imperial China rule (111 BC to 938 AD). It was colonized by the French in the mid-18th century and under Japanese rule in the 1940s. Vietnam is one of the four remaining single-party socialist states espousing Communism.

Flag of Vietnam.svg
Flag of Vietnam” by Lưu Ly vẽ lại theo nguồn trên – http://vbqppl.moj.gov.vn/law/vi/1951_to_1960/1955/195511/195511300001 http://vbqppl.moj.gov.vn/vbpq/Lists/Vn%20bn%20php%20lut/View_Detail.aspx?ItemID=820. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 Vietnam has mountains to the north and sea to the east. In the middle are the midlands which are full of rice paddies. There are two major rivers in Vietnam, the Red River and the Mekong River. Each river forms a delta where it meets the sea. Both deltas are highly developed and populated. The climate varies. However the winter is referred to as the dry season and summer is the monsoon season. In the southern planes and the Mekong River Delta the temperatures throughout the year range from 21 and 28 °C (69.8 and 82.4 °F). In the mountains the temperatures in December and January average 5 °C (41.0 °F) and in July and August they average 37 °C (98.6 °F).

Grazing buffalos in corezone
By Kristinvafranzi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

 The main religion in Vietnam is Buddhism. The second largest religion is Catholicism. There are two religions found only in Vietnam: Cao Dai and Hoa Hao. Vietnamese of all religions practice ancestor worship. Many homes have an altar with pictures of grandparents and great grandparents. Tet or New Year is the largest and most colorful celebration in Vietnam. They celebrate the lunar new year. They also celebrate Ho Chi Minh’s birthday on May 19th. Many consider him the father of Vietnam since he was the first president of North Vietnam after the French rule. He also fought hard to unify Vietnam. His birthday is now a public holiday and many children take part in parades to honor him. In August they celebrate Vu Lan Day or Wandering Souls Day. It is the time they remember the people who have died. In September they celebrate Tet Trung Thu or Children’s or Harvest Festival. It takes place during the full moon in September. It marks the beginning of the harvest. The streets are full with singing children, processions, drums and gongs beating. The children also carry lanterns and candles.

By Nguyen Thanh Long (originally posted to Flickr as Seeding) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 Rice is a staple food. It is grown throughout the midlands. During harvest season the schools are closed so the children can help their families with the harvest. Traditional Vietnamese cuisine is known for using little oil, use of fresh ingredients and relying on herbs and vegetables. It is considered one of the healthiest cuisines. Northern Vietnamese food is less spicy than Southern.  (Sources: Wikipedia and books shown below)

books on vietnam CollageAs always I look to the library for books on our country the ones above I found useful to teach myself and my daughter a bit about Vietnam. As for cuisine references the books below we found helpful for recipes as well as information about the religions, festivals and more.

vietnam food book CollageThen to give my daughter a sense of life in Vietnam I turn to legends and folktales as well as picture books and for older children there are novels and books about the history and wars. Here are some of the books with the legends and folktales.

legends and folktales CollageHere are picture books, novels, books about surviving the war as well as books about Vietnamese Americans and some returning to Vietnam for the first time.

picture books novels CollageThere are also some books about the holidays. I found two about Tet as well as one about a Vietnamese American family celebrating Thanksgiving differently from the traditional American dinner.

holidays CollageNow it is time to explore Vietnam with different recipes. Join us on our blog hop to see all the wonderful Vietnamese recipes, crafts and more shared and feel free to share your own.  We also have the wonderful Vietnamese placemat and passport pages  (and of course our passport cover) coming soon to download for free to help teach your children about Vietnam


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