Wedding, funeral gift money costs more than monthly food expenses

June 4, 2024 | 03:00 pm PT
Wedding, funeral gift money costs more than monthly food expenses
Cash gifts are often expected at weddings in Vietnam. Illustration photo by Pexels
My uncle, 80, has to skim on eating and work constantly in the fields to afford the gift money that is customarily expected at local funerals and weddings.

Lavish funerals or weddings are becoming a nightmare for many, especially in rural areas. In my village, not only weddings but all sorts of ceremonies, such as death anniversaries, baby showers, and university admissions celebrations, are extravagantly organized with grand feasts that span multiple days.

Rural workers earn little, yet the cost of attending these ceremonies often exceeds their monthly spending on food.

My uncle and his children are not well-off, yet the expenses for attending these events are so costly that without working constantly, he could not afford the gift money. He could not even have a proper diet as all his money was spent on one ceremony to another.

In my village, there is a custom that for big celebrations, the host family must invite the whole village or even the whole commune. They then hire costly caterers as the bigger the event, the more profits they get. Thus, the host often tries to invite as many people as possible to maximize their cash gifts. They even invite friends of their children, their parents, and their grandparents. Therefore, even at 80, my uncle cannot escape these expensive gatherings.

Many would say that if he does not like it, he can just not attend, but it is not as simple as that. In the countryside, any offenses will get spread around the whole village and commune. You cannot step outside without hearing gossip and inquiries about your "misdeed," which is exhausting, so simply opting out is not always feasible.

Thus, everyone complains yet still attends these events because no one dares to be the one to speak up first. Everyone wants to recover the money they have spent on previous events, so when it is their turn, they invite even more people, creating a vicious cycle.

I know many brides and grooms who never wanted a grand wedding, but to recover their family's funds, they had to invite the entire village. Hence, there are many cases where in a month, money spent on attending events in the countryside surpasses spending on food.

The costs of these ceremonies are indeed a burden to people. While I have a decent income, I still find it exhausting that I cannot turn down these events. I cannot imagine how stressful those who earn less would feel.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Reader Vi Tran

*This opinion was translated into English by AI. Readers’ views are personal and do not necessarily match VnExpress’ viewpoints.

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