Vietnamese Language Blog

Summertime Posted by on Jul 5, 2021 in Culture, Events, Seasons, Vocabulary

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Father’s Day is usually marked as the start of Summer in the United States. However, the celebration of July 4th, Independence Day, is the real kick off for all summer activities. The end of summertime is usually marked by the celebration of Labor Day in early September. Officially, the summer of 2021 started on June 20 and will end on September 22.

Unlike the United States with clear four seasons, Vietnam, especially southern Vietnam, has rainy or dry seasons. Summer season in Vietnam is marked when children are out of school. Generally speaking, it’s somewhere between May and September.

Let’s start with the Vietnamese “summer” vocabulary list that I will use throughout this blog


  • Mùa hè
  • Nghỉ mát
  • Nghỉ hè
Summer break/Summer vacation
  • Nhà nghỉ mát
Vacation home
  • Khu nghỉ mát
  • Khu giải trí
Recreation/Entertainment area
  • Khu du lịch
Tourist area
  • Công viên
  • Thời tiết
  • Nắng
  • Mùa mưa
Raining season
  • Nóng
  • Cầu vồng
  • Hoa Phượng
Flamboyant Flower (Royal Poinciana)
  • Con ve sầu

Flamboyant flower in the basket of a student’s bike – Image by Tiểu Bảo Trương from Pixabay

I think mùa hè (summer) is the most memorable season for most families. When I was young, I loved mùa hè simply because tôi được nghỉ hè (I got a summer break/off school) and went on nghỉ mát (vacation) at my maternal grandmother’s estate with my siblings and cousins.

I called Grandma’s estate our nhà nghỉ mát (vacation home). It had a small orchard with a view of a green, low mountain range and a large creek from the back deck of the house. It was like a resort to me because there, we did nothing but eat, play, and sleep. I still remember clearly each early evening at sunset, I would sit on the back balcony, allow my thoughts to drift into lalaland in a fairy realm, while enjoying the cool breeze blowing on my face and in my hair.

Summer in Vietnam is the mùa mưa (rainy season), nóng (hot), and nhiều nắng (very sunny). However, the sky is beautiful blue with tons of billowing white clouds in many shapes. Back then, with imagination, I could see the clouds in all shapes of animals, such as a flying dragon, jumping rabbit, running dog, etc. At times, after the rain, I had a good view of a pretty cầu vồng (rainbow), too.

In Vietnam, mùa hè is also called mùa Hoa Phượng (Flamboyant flower season) or mùa ve sầu (cicada season). It’s self-explanatory. You’ll find a lot of pretty, “flamboyant” trees on the street covered with spectacular, showy, bright, red flowers that only bloom in the summer. Same for the cicadas. They make a loud noise in the summertime. In the past, students often dried the petals of hoa Phượng and gifted them to each other before going on nghỉ hè (summer break).

In music, there are many songs with lyrics about hoa Phượng, symbolic of summer school. Notable are the songs titled “Nỗi Buồn Hoa Phượng” (Hoa Phượng’s Lament) and “Phuọng Hồng” (The Red Hoa Phượng). If you would like to listen to these songs, there are many available in YouTube.

Flamboyant Flower – Image by Olivier CORDONIN from Pixabay

An expression you always hear when the Vietnamese talk about the summer heat is “nóng chảy mỡ”, transliterated as “hot melting fat” or “nóng như điên”, meaning “hot like crazy”.

In the United States, strangely, even though it’s nóng như điên and nóng chảy mỡ like in the oven, people still love to go outside and get all the sun tanning they can. It’s the opposite in Vietnam. When it’s too hot and sunny, nobody wants to be on the street or does anything.  As for sun tanning, it’s a big no-no, especially for girls. Maintaining a lighter complexion is considered more youthful and attractive. This is one reason why so many Vietnamese wore masks outdoors before the pandemic. It’s to keep the sun and wind from weathering their cheeks and noses!

Enjoy the long days of summertime and don’t forget to wear your hat, sunglasses and sunblock!


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay


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