Ironic Christmas in Vietnam!
Christmas is becoming the common holiday nowadays, celebrated on the night 24th of December until the next day even though it has not been the official day in Vietnam. Typically, during this time, Christmas trees are everywhere fully decorated with a lot of strings of lights and lovely ornaments as the other countries where Xmas is concerned as the big national holiday. The cozy and fancy Vietnamese Christmas time can be caught quite soon at the end of November. Every department store and even small shop at the corner is all decorated gorgeously. Christmas songs and the attractive colors of Noel, red, white and green cover the whole atmosphere, which makes the city more beautiful and lively. You can amble down to the main streets and see a lot of “standing selling spots” where many lovely cards, ornaments and “Noel Hats” are sold along the line.
To Vietnamese, Christmas is more a lively relaxing and enjoyable holiday, when the lovers exchange gifts and spend time together, when the children eager to meet Mr. Santa Clause, when the families are together, have festive dinner and party, karaoke. Vietnamese really love karaoke and it is almost a part of activities in every party or holiday. As usual, the children will write a letter to Santa Claus, then leave their stockings by their besides and go to sleep. When they wake up in the morning, they realize that Father Christmas has come and filled their stockings with presents. Somehow, this is not a traditional way to do in Vietnam. Group is Catholic or Christian religion, they go to church and celebrate at home or eat out in the restaurant, give gifts to their children. Uniquely, instead of the image of Santa Clause riding reindeers, you will meet a lot of Santa Clauses here driving scooters along the street and ring the bell to let everybody know Christmas time is coming. That thing makes the night be more special and children are more impatient to meet Santa Claus and receive gifts from him.
The young have their own ways to celebrate on this day, are the time to go shopping, party with friends and hang out in pubs, bar, or on the streets. For them, this is the chance to wander around, make friends and have fun on the roads shining full of tinsel. Especially, everybody from everywhere will gather up to the “Cathedral church” in the center overnight at Christmas Eve. People just chill out, fool around with friends, and sing together. Even more, Vietnamese love Christmas songs, specifically “Feliz Navidad”. The sounds of laughter and singing mingled in the night air. We do not have snow in Vietnam, but we still feel snow everywhere and the richness of people’s souls. Particularly, Christmas time in Ho Chi Minh City, along to the ”Foreigner’s hub” as Pham Ngu Lao, Bui Vien, De Tham in the ”District 1”, the atmosphere spreads across each road and people’s face. It seems that Christmas is approachable everywhere, and everybody can feel it, the magic of Christmas story which has been in their mind from the childhood.
How interesting and peculiar it is to spend Christmas without winter jacket and the cold. More than anything else, the peace here and friendliness are the things that you would feel about Vietnam. Hospitality, which is the fervor of the foreigners’ first coming or already stay in Vietnam for short or long time, and even more genuine at Christmas – night of peace and wish.