Reunification Day in Vietnam, or Ngay Giai Phong, is a day of patriotic celebration for many Vietnamese people.
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Aside from the political and military victory of Vietnam’s reunification, the Vietnamese people celebrate Reunification Day because of the development that occurred as a result of the South’s and North’s cooperation with each other. Also known as Liberation day, Reunification Day is officially recognized on 30 April each year. To understand Reunification Day, you must first go back to the years of the war in Vietnam.
During an era of European colonization across the entire world, French forces occupied Vietnam and profited from the resources and labor found throughout the country. After the Vietnamese pushed the French out of the country, Vietnam attempted to form a government. When Vietnam was supported by China and the Soviet Union, the United States feared that Vietnam would turn into a communist state. In their mission to prevent the spread of communism, the United States and NATO supported the democratic side in a civil war that started in South Vietnam.
The war continued for many years as NATO, Vietcong, and North Vietnamese forces battled for control of Vietnam. After 16 years of fighting against American, Canadian, and other NATO forces, the army of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam broke through to the city of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam. After fierce fighting, the NATO forces that were occupying the city were left with no choice but to evacuate. With the war in Vietnam now over, the North and the South were now ready to unite and begin to rebuild the nation.
Parades and Festivals
In many of Vietnam’s major cities, both foreigners and the Vietnamese people enjoy large celebrations that are dedicated to the success of Vietnam as one country. On the morning of 30 April, large parades are held. These parades are elaborate affairs that consist of many floats, performers, and marching bands. To symbolize Reunification Day, the color red is prominent on costumes and floats. During the evening of the holiday, a large national show and several smaller exhibitions are held in Vietnam. This show has live music from famous singers and bands. Along with popular hits that Vietnamese people enjoy, patriotic victory songs from the time of the war are played. Speeches by officials and other people of importance are also common.
During the month leading up to Reunification, many organizations will participate in public competitions. The themes of these competitions are usually related to Vietnamese patriotism and Reunification, so this is way to boost the spirits of the people before the holiday. Choir competitions and art contests are common before Reunification Day in Vietnam.
On the day of Reunification Day, there are many television programs dedicated to celebrating the holiday. Memorial programs for those wounded or killed during the war in Vietnam are held. Historical programs that explain the stories of the war are also popular. The National Reunification Day show is also broadcast for people that cannot make it in person.
You will know when Reunification Day is here solely because of the high amount of decorations that are used for the holiday. Each home-owning citizen is required to place a red flag on their front door. This is a sign of patriotism and respect to those who did not survive the war. Businesses also participate in the holiday by placing a red flag or banner on their office buildings. Red neon lights are also used as decoration during the Reunification Day holiday.
Where to Go
While most Vietnamese people travel to their hometowns to celebrate Reunification Day with family and friends, some people use the holiday to enjoy a short trip. It can be expensive and difficult to arrange for transportation outside of Vietnam during Reunification, so many people opt to travel to destinations within the country. People looking to enjoy a weekend on the water can go to Nha Trang Beach or Halong Bay. For those who would like to take part in Reunification Day celebrations, Hanoi, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang are great options. These cities all have massive celebrations that can be enjoyed by all who come.
To celebrate Reunification Day, every Vietnamese citizen in Vietnam receives a day off from work on 30 April. If 30 April falls on a weekend, the following Monday is recognized as a public holiday. This break from work allows the Vietnamese people to spend some time with friends and family while paying their respects to the nation’s fallen. It is also a time to reflect on the development of Vietnam since 1975.
Reunification Celebrations for Overseas Vietnamese
While many overseas Vietnamese people celebrate Reunification Day, there are some do not see the 30th day in April as a happy time. When Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, was liberated, many Vietnamese who were allied to NATO forces evacuated the country. These exiled Vietnamese people, and some of their children, refer to Reunification Day as the National Day of Resentment, Black April, or the Day of Shame. For these people, the 30th of April is a day of reflection and mourning.
Reunification Day in Vietnam is a public holiday that celebrates the reunion of North and South Vietnam. Many Vietnamese people see it as a happy time to celebrate their country’s accomplishments with family.