The Vietnamese culture is one of the oldest in Southeast Asia and is heavily influenced by the Chinese culture. After Vietnam attained independence from China in the 10th century, the country began to expand southwards which led to the incorporation of elements of the Champa and Khmer cultures into the Vietnamese culture. Later, French colonial rule in Vietnam introduced the Western culture to the country and led to the spread of Catholicism and the adoption of the Latin alphabet. Once the communist regime started in Vietnam, several restrictions were placed over cultural exchanges with the Western civilization and instead exposure to the cultures of other communist nations like Cuba, Soviet Union, and others was encouraged. Despite the changes over the years, some elements of the Vietnamese culture like the veneration of the ancestors, respect for family values, devotion to study, etc., remained intact.
In Vietnam, family and clan are valued over individualism. Clan is the most important social unit in the country and each clan features a patriarch heading the clan and a clan altar. Even today, in some parts of the country, the tradition of clan members living together in longhouses is quite prevalent. It is also not uncommon to see three to four generations of a family living under the same roof. Members of a clan are related by blood and often name their villages based on their clan names. Death commemorations of clan members are usually attended by all members of the clan. Weddings in Vietnam were earlier arranged mainly by parents and people were married young. However, things have changed now and the Vietnamese youth enjoy greater freedom of selecting the time of their marriage and their partner. Weddings are still mostly held in the traditional manner with elaborate rituals and ceremonies.
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