Vietnamese Superstitions & Their Origins

Superstitions have been with us since ancient times and appear in every corner of the world. But it is intriguing to know how these myths started and what is behind them. For instance, many Western countries believe that black cats are a bad omen, this is because they were believed to be associated with witchcraft in the medieval times.

Some say if a black cat crosses your path then you will suffer bad luck, misfortune, and even death. In this blog we take a look at the superstitions of Vietnam and how they were formed.

The First Visitor of a New Year

The Lunar New Year is widely celebrated all over parts of Asia, and it is an incredibly superstitious time for Vietnamese people also. It is widely held in Vietnam that the first visitor to your home at New Year dictates what kind of year the household will have. So, in regard to this, many families plan who will be the first person to cross the family threshold. Friends or wealthy family members are pushed out of the door seconds before the clock strikes twelve only to re-enter a few seconds later.

Ghost Money

The Vietnamese people believe taking money to their ancestor’s tombs will bring them good fortune. This money is better known as Ghost Money, but it is also imitation money. The money can be printed on a variety of materials including bamboo paper and it looks like Yen, Dong, Baht and even US Dollars. This fake money is traditionally burned and then the ancestors of the people can receive it and place it into an afterlife bank to be redeemed at a later time, or for the ancestors to accept the money to bestow privileges on the family.

Pregnancy Taboos

Pregnant women in Vietnam have to be careful of many superstitions to ensure their baby is born healthy and well. For some unknown reason pregnant women are not welcomed at weddings as their presence is supposed to bring bad luck to the betrothed. If a pregnant woman attends a funeral, then her child will be born a cry-baby. If she inadvertently steps on a hammock then her baby will grow up lazy. And above all pregnant woman must avoid temples at all costs not to enrage the spirits.


Some Vietnamese believe that a bad haircut can cause temporary memory loss, and in the case of students about to sit an exam this could be disastrous. So, if a student is unfortunate to get a dodgy haircut before taking an important exam they could forget everything they have formerly learned. This is why most students wait until after exams to schedule a hairdressing appointment. Just the same as a new visitor on New Year dictates what type of year a family may have, the first customer of the day will indicate how good a Vietnamese shop will do that day. If the first customer is a big spender, then the shop will make a good profit during the course of the rest of the day. Superstition is not only a Vietnamese trait but they certainly believe in some very strange things!