Derived from the perfectionist viewpoint of welcoming all good things and avoiding bad things at all cost, in Vietnamese culture, before doing important things such as building a house, organizing a wedding party or starting a business, Vietnamese are convinced that choosing the right date is vital. Some may view choosing the good date as a superstitious action, however, to most Vietnamese people, it has become a habit and a belief which is good results may come with good chosen dates.
Many people go to a fortune teller to choose a date to start their business, be it a new one or just when to continue the operation in the new year. The act of opening the door of a convenience store, or to press start to a machine in a factory, all need to strictly follow age-based guidelines. The fortune teller would ask about their age and the hour and date of birth which are then analyzed based on Chinese philosophies to figure out the most suitable date for the founder of the business. Some other people who already master the concept of Yin and Yang and the Five Basic Elements (Thuyet Am Duong Ngu Hanh), with the help of the book on the same topic, can choose the best date themselves.
On the first few days of the new year, usually a good day will be picked and people will come to their office or store to start the business for the year. Even though they may just come for an hour and won't open their stores until days later, it is still considered a mark to official declare that the good date is the start date so that lucks and fortunes will come to the business in the new year. As it is believed that what happens during that hour will become the fate of the work for the year, people try to stay as happy and welcoming as possible: some even asks families and friends to come and buy something from them with new bank notes (money paper) in the hope that the business will be prosperous all year round.
Big or small, most Vietnamese business all wants the best date to start for the new year
As said, the good date varies years by years and the ages of the owners. According to Vietnam Research Center - School of Oriental, in 2012, the best date for opening a business or starting the business for the new year is January 9th (Lunar Calendar) or January 31st (Gregorian calendar). The golden hours is between 7:20 and 9:20 or between 11:20 and 13:20. Note that this is just the general good date, but depending on the business owners' age, there may be other dates between January 1-6th (Lunar Calendar as well).
Interestingly, certain business are influenced by their own beliefs. For example, Vietnamese has a saying that "Tranh di mung 7, tranh ve mung 3" - Avoid departure on the 7th and arrival on the 3rd. That is why most travel agencies avoid organizing tour that starts or leave on the 3rd and 7th of January during Tet.
Through out the year, there are three black dates on which Vietnamese avoids doing 'big' things: 05, 14, 23 of each lunar month (the individual number adds up to 5 in each). Some exceptions might be taken considering other factors. But people, who even know nothing about how to choose the date for their business prefer not launch it on one of these three dates stated above.
Why is choosing the date to start a business so important to Vietnamese people?
There are two main reasons that keep sustaining these traditions for a history time.
1. Prevention is better than cure
It does not take a lot effort to choose the right date for their business. Most people choose the right date with the original purpose of avoiding bad things to happen. Most do not want to speak "if only" when they know they could have a better outcome by choosing the right date from the beginning.
2. Strong belief initiates motivation
Vietnamese people’s life is much based on spiritual values. Ancestor worshipping or religions are both pervasive and influential on a daily basis. As a learned behavior throughout many generations, successful businesses come from choosing the right date, the very first step to their business and it comes back on a yearly basis. Gradually, people believe date choice is one among success factors for their business. The belief of being successful initiate strong motivation for people to overcome obstacles they come up against when it is in process. With intrinsic motivation in mind, they are more likely to gain significant achievements in the future.