An old saying goes: “respecting the elder, he will give you more ages”. The simple saying covers a philosophy of life in Vietnamese society and is related to the longevity custom in Vietnam, reminding us of the traditional moral standard, that is filial piety to our grandparents and parents.
Longevity wishing ceremony is to wish an elderly person longevity. That is a Vietnamese custom, when their grandparents or parents reach the old age, children show their profound gratitude to them by celebrating a ceremony to wish them good health and long life.
During the Tran Dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, the 40 year old emperor gave up his throne to his son to become a Buddhist monk. According to village customs, a man of 50 is to be honored as an old man. Old men stop working and are no longer village officials; however, they are still invited to festivals and to sears in the communal house. Here, they are seated honorably on red-bordered mats.
Showing respect and esteem for the elderly is a tradition that remains today in Vietnamese culture. Nowadays, when grandparents or parents reach the ages of 70, 80 or 90, their children and grandchild organize ceremonies for longevity which are generally held on birthdays or during the spring days during Tet. The celebration day depends on each local: on the first lunar January or on 15 lunar January, commonly happens in early spring festival. Longevity ceremony is considered to be a traditional formal ceremony, featuring cultural background based on the fathers’ customs.
Such celebrations are occasions to show devotion and respect to grandparents and parents. Celebrations for longevity, either large or small, manifest the family’s joy in having a relative who has been able to lead a long life. Today, in almost every village or urban district, there is an association of longevity for the elderly. When reaching the ages of 70 or 80, the old are offered red dresses and other gifts and are invited to be photographed.