Although a predominantly Buddhist country, Christmas in Vietnam is still one of the four main annual religious festivals including the Lunar New Year, the mid-autumn festival, Buddha’s birthday.
This a grand party when the fun-loving and sociable Vietnamese, whether being a Christian or not, celebrate with gusto.
Decorations are set up during December with a big nativity crib scene or ‘creche’ with life-sized statues of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and animals from almost every major churches such as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City or Saint Joseph Cathedral (the Big Church) in Hanoi. There are also sparkling lighting decorations on trees on the streets and in front of houses, turning particular places into Christmas area. Usually the shops will have their signs advertising sales for Christmas seasons, and in Hanoi the piercing cold is a wonderful chance for people to get dressed up.
Unlike Christmas in the United States in which most of the celebration celebrates in the home with home cooked meals and family gathering, the Vietnamese hold the event outside.
On Christmas Eve, Vietnamese people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, especially young people, like to go into the city centre, where there is a Catholic Cathedral. The streets are crowded with people on Christmas Eve and in the city centre cars are not allowed for the night.
People celebrate by throwing confetti, taking pictures and enjoying the Christmas decorations and lights of big hotels and department stores. Lots of cafes and restaurants are open for people to enjoy a snack!
So, if you come to Vietnam at this time, please enjoy a whole new atmosphere in our country. And Merry Christmas in Vietnamese is “Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh”!