Vietnam’s most significant and flamboyant national holiday is most certainly National Day. Our resident expert breaks down the basics of this important historical anniversary.
September 2nd marks Vietnam’s National Day. Celebrations are held across the country to honour the moment when Vietnam announced independence from France and started on the road to nationhood.
You know there is something afoot when the banners appear. For a couple of weeks now, “9/2” (September 2nd) has been appearing all over the place – and this could mean only one thing – National Holiday! In a country that only has 9 days a year of holiday, it is little wonder that there is a tangible air of excitement around the place. September 2nd feels like a big one. It hasn’t got the aura of the New Year celebrations of Tet, but in terms of historical and national meaning surely none compare?
As with all holidays here, National Day is a time to head back home, enjoy a good meal with family and generally have a good time. My neighbourhood is a hive of activity with families frantically preparing for the day ahead. It seems like pork is on the menu, if the number of pigs squeezed onto mopeds is anything to go by.
Banners, flowers and balloons
On a civic level things are a little grander. Banners have appeared on every lamppost and strung across narrow streets. Every house has a flag at the door and government buildings are a sea of red and gold. Along Hoan Kiem Lake and in front of Lenin’s statue are large flower displays – speaking of independence and national pride.
Red and gold are the colours of the day, and it is hard to look anywhere without seeing the iconic star of Vietnam staring back at you. The streets around Hoan Kiem are packed with people, soaking up the atmosphere, taking a stroll and of course some photos to.
To round the scene off are the balloons. No celebration could be complete without the huge balloons that hang over Hoan Kiem Lake. Resembling massive floating beach balls, they act as the perfect place to hang a few extra banners. They appear at Tet and then are packed away until September when again they are inflated and hoisted high above the lake.
They seem to be particularly prone to atmospheric conditions. If there is a bit of adverse weather around, it isn’t rare to find a balloon come crashing down, ending up stranded in the lake with a boat load of balloon engineers frantically trying to raise it again.
Ba Dinh Square
All of this patriotic flag waving, banners and balloons could make you miss the real point of the day. On September 2nd 1945, Ho Chi Minh stood in Ba Dinh square and delivered a speech that stands alongside the American Declaration of Independence.
Proclaiming a country free from colonial rule, and demanding the Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity of the very nation he was fighting, Ho Chi Minh started an irrepressible movement towards an independent Vietnam. In a country where so much change and violence has been seen, it is little wonder why the words of Uncle Ho touch so many to this day. It seems only right to give him the final word:
“We, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, solemnly declare to the world that Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country…. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilise all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty.”
Ho Chi Minh – 2nd September 1945
How did you spend your National Day in Vietnam? Share with us your experiences – or experience it for yourself on a customised Vietnam itinerary just for you!