Updated August 2022
Within global history, many countries, including Vietnam, have marked their severing of colonial ties with an Independence Day. However, there is another day of equal historical and political significance in Vietnamese history known as Reunification Day. Find everything you need to know with our guide below.
What is Reunification Day?
Also known as Liberation Day or Victory Day, this nationally-recognized day acknowledges the pivotal moment when the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North) and the Republic of Vietnam (South) were reunited together under one, united government. A ‘temporary’ partition between North and South had been created after the defeat of the French in 1954 – a divide that was to be resolved by a national election. Years of rivalry and turmoil involving intrusive ‘cold war’ interference followed instead, culminating in the American War.
Reunification Day also marks the end of the American War and the fall of the Saigon government as well as the unification of North and South.
Following three decades of struggle to become an independent, unified nation (1945-1975), Reunification Day has emerged as a deserved source of pride and nationalism for Vietnamese people.
When is Reunification Day?
This momentous moment occurred on April 30th, 1975. Therefore, Reunification Day in Vietnam takes place on April 30th every year.
Historical Background to Reunification Day
In the years immediately following World War II France attempted to re-establish its colonial control in Vietnam. The Vietnamese monarchy had collapsed and on September 2, 1945, Viet Minh leader, Ho Chi Minh, declared Vietnam an independent republic. The Viet Minh also went on to win Vietnam’s first National Assembly election in 1946, but France didn’t want to relinquish its various interests in the region. By 1947 ‘negotiations’ broke down and full-scale war ensued.
Confronted with a cocktail of competing non-communist factions, and the Viet Minh’s direct support from Chinese communists, France (and later the US and the UK) supported the exiled Emperor, Bao Dai as she prosecuted the war. But by 7 May, 1954, the French were forced to surrender.
The Geneva Accord followed two months later ousting the French but Vietnam was partitioned between North and South, pending democratic elections due in 1956 as part of the deal. But agreement was never reached between the North and South on how these should be conducted. By the early 60s instability in South Vietnam led to its erratic leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, falling following an army-led coup (with CIA backing).
Fanned by communist cadres, even greater instability followed in the South and the US intervened directly in 1965 by sending troops and bombing North Vietnam. The fall of Saigon ten years later on 30 April, 1975, marked not just the end of the American War with the North victorious, but the beginning of the reunification process between North and South Vietnam.
How is Reunification Day Celebrated?
This holiday is a particularly patriotic one due to its importance in shaping peaceful, modern-day Vietnam. As it is a national public holiday, banks and government close down, but shops remain open and as it falls the day before Labour Day, families take the time to visit each other and spend time together.
Tourist attractions and major cities become a bit more chaotic, with the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi being a highly popular site for the occasion. Parades often occur in Ho Chi Minh City with the flag being proudly raised. Traditionally, boat races, fireworks and food events take place all over the country. If you are in Hoi An during this time, you may encounter some celebrations, or you can travel to nearby metropolis Da Nang for a bigger party.