Christmas is a foreign holiday in Vietnam, but everyone seems to join in the festive spirit and thoroughly enjoy themselves. In recent years, Christmas (also called Noel) is becoming one of the most important festivals in Vietnam. Vietnam’s traditional religions are Buddhism and the Chinese philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism. However, during French rule, many became Christians. This is the reason why Christmas is more and more popular in the country.
Right from the days of the French rule, Catholics originally formed a small population in the country. They used to celebrate Christmas quite peacefully. Despite Christmas not being traditionally celebrated in Vietnam, the Christmas spirit has certainly arrived in recent years, with decorations proudly lacing many an office and apartment building. Today, Christmas is one of the major festivals in Vietnam and celebrated with much enthusiasm by people of almost all religious communities.
In big cities, such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Christmas is a big event and celebrated a little bit differently from the European tradition. The Christmas decorations here are more or less similar to the Western Christmas beautifications. About one or two weeks before Christmas, churches, high-rise buildings, shopping centers, shops and streets in the cities are striking by colored lights. Many young boys and girl go to these places to take photos with the beautiful decorations.
Christmas is also an interesting occasion to earning money from the Christmas services. Many services for preparing and celebrating Christmas are appeared in the last few years. Besides selling decoration items, many shops offer the the “Santa Clause service” – giving gifts to your house for the children. You can easily see many “Santa Clause” travel around by motorbikes in the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in the days before Christmas Eve.
However, Christmas in Vietnam is not merely entertainment. On Christmas Eve and the morning of Christmas Day – December 25th, there is a large focus in the church. People go to many churches around the cities or towns to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. For the Christians, it is a solemn ceremony. For others, this is an interesting spectacle. The biggest, most crowded and beautiful church in Hanoi is the Saint Joseph Cathedral and in Ho Chi Minh City is the Notre Dame Cathedral (or Notre-Dame Basilica). Both of these cathedrals are in the center of the cities. In other cities or provinces, they do not have many interesting activities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, but with the Christians, Christmas is still the most important occasions in a year.
Hang Ma Street in Hanoi – where you can find colorful decoration items for Christmas
Streets in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are beautiful with Christmas decorations
Saint Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi
Santa Clause service poster
“Santa Clause” on the street
Saint Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi in the Christmas Eve