Religion, the state, and the Vietnamese lunar new year (Respond to this article at


  • Patrick McAllister

    1. The author is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. His current research interest is in the Vietnamese lunar new year (Tet), its associated rituals and beliefs, and the ways in which it is celebrated in Ho Chi Minh City. His previous work on public ritual has included research in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province, and he has recently published a book on the inter-ethnic and local dimensions of national days in New Zealand and Australia. His email is
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This article examines the ways in which the Communist Party and the state in Vietnam have become involved in the annual lunar new year (Tet) festival in the name of the nation, and with how this is facilitated by the ancestor cult and linked to their more general involvement in religious events such as the commemoration of national heroes and deities.