Nowadays, Christmas becomes one of the four most important festivals of Vietnam each year, including New year Holiday, the birthday of Buddha, and the Mid-autumn Festival. Although Christians observed the religious rituals of Christmas.
Christmas in Vietnam.
Traditional Vietnamese religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism. However, during French rule, a plenty of people became Christians, that occupies 8% to 10% of the population because the Vietnamese are a fun-loving, sociable people and the various Vietnam festivals and events are actually occasions for them to a gala time. Christmas is a grand party in Vietnam.
History of Christmas in Vietnam
Christmas Holiday in Vietnam has had a tumultuous history. The Catholics are a minority in Vietnam but they used to celebrate Christmas quite in peace right from the days of the French colonial time. It is until the Communists took over political power in 1975. During that time, the church-state relations soured and the Catholics were relegated to celebrating Jesus’s birthday in privacy.
Christmas In Vietnam in The war time.
Since the end of the Vietnamese War in 1975, church-state relations haven’t always been smooth. Nevertheless, they have been improving since the introduction of economic reforms in the late 1980s. Liberalist policies adopted since the 1980s saw Vietnam warming up to Western influences and ideas. Of course, Christmas in Vietnam came back triumphantly. Nowadays, Christmas is also the major festivals in Vietnam which is celebrated with much fanfare by all religious communities.
Phat Diem Cathedral in Ninh Binh Province is known as the spiritual home for the seven million Catholics living in Vietnam, a predominantly Buddhist nation. Hundreds of Catholics gather for Christmas Eve Mass in the northern city of Phat Diem. Children staged a nativity play to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in front of the city’s Cathedral which was built in 1891.
Christmas in Vietnam
Christmas is a huge event in Vietnam, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City. Christmas celebrations here are like any other cities in the Western countries. The Christians attend a Midnight mass on Christmas Eve and return home to a sumptuous Christmas dinner. The Christmas dinner consists of chicken soup while wealthier people eat Christmas pudding and turkey.
On Christmas Eve, Vietnamese people, specially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City like to go into the city center, where there is a Catholic Cathedral. The streets are very crowded on that night.
Christmas in The Old Quarter of Hanoi.
People celebrate by taking pictures, throwing confetti and even enjoying the Christmas decorations and lights of department stores and big hotels as well. A lot of cafes and restaurants are open for people to enjoy a snack!
Vietnam used to be the French Colony, that is the reason why there are still French influences in the Christmas traditions. A plenty of Catholic churches has a big nativity crib scene or ‘creche’ with nearly life-size statues of Joesph, Mary, baby Jesus, the shepherds, and animals. In some Catholic parishes in Ho Chi Minh City, people usually have big crib scenes in front of their houses and decorate the whole street, turning it into a Christmas area. Those are popular for people to visit and look at the scenes.
In addition, like in France, the special Christmas Eve meal is called ‘rebellion’ and has a ‘bûche de Noël’ which is a chocolate cake in the shape of a log for desert. Vietnamese people usually give presents of food and at Christmas, a bûche de Noël is consider as the most popular gift. Other Christmas presents aren’t very common, but some young people like to exchange Christmas cards together.
The Yuletide spirit of giving and sharing has been embraced with an earnest by Vietnamese people. Generous as they are, the Vietnamese give out gifts in plenty during the Christmas celebrations in Vietnam. Nonetheless, the children are more keen to have their stockings and shoes stuffed in with goodies from Santa’s bulging sack. The European customs of the Christmas tree and Santa Claus are popular and children would like to leave their shoes out on Christmas Eve.
Free walking tour in Hanoi, Vietnam.