How Does Vietnam Celebrate Christmas?

Supporting content for Vietnamese restaurant.

    • Culture/Cuisine
    • vietnamesekitchen.com
    • 10-12-14

You’d be hard-pushed to find religious symbolism in the West during Christmas, particularly in London.

Consumerism and securalism has marginalised Christianity to such a degree, that any public show of faith during the festive period is frowned upon.

So it is heartening to know that people of other faiths see Christmas for what it really is: a religious celebration.

This is certainly true in Vietnam which, despite being predominantly Buddhist, recognises the birth of Christ (Kito) as one of the four main religious festivals. If you paid a visit to this beguiling country during the festive period, you’d quickly realise that Christmas is a big deal.

Although Christmas has not always been widely celebrated in Vietnam, the economic reforms of the late 1980s created a more relaxed atmosphere, particularly with regards to religious worship.

Nowadays, Vietnamese people celebrate Christmas in much the same way as British people once did. Nativity scenes and plays are far more prominent, with many elaborate displays adorning the fronts of houses.

Decorations, often featuring Christian effigies are displayed in shop-windows and countless homes are bedecked in sparkling lights.

Christmas Eve is considered to be extremely important with millions of people attending midnight mass services throughout the country – Ho Chi Minh City, with its large cathedral, is usually packed to the rafters.

After midnight mass, people return home to enjoy Christmas supper. This is the most important meal of the Vietnamese Christmas and often consists of chicken soup with banh mi, although turkey and Christmas puddings are becoming increasingly popular. Children then leave shoes in front of their doors so that Santa Claus (Pere Noel) can fill them with small gifts.

The big cities are clearly where it’s at during the festive period. For many city-centres, vehicles are banned from the streets which allow people to mingle freely and enjoy the Yuletide spirit – many cafes and Banh Mi stalls are also open late to cater for the hordes of party-goers.

The decorations, particularly those in Ho Chi Minh City, are rather impressive, featuring giant Christmas trees and lights which seem to cover the whole city-centre.

It’s also intriguing to see that French influences still pervade Vietnamese society, particularly during Christmas – the annual Christmas Eve feast is known as ‘reveillon’ and features a large chocolate log cake which is called a bûche de Noël’.

The Vietnamese Christmas period is a wonderful time and offers a fine example of how a country can celebrate other religious festivals without abandoning its own values and beliefs.

It’s also worth mentioning that your typical Vietnamese restaurant in London will take Christmas very seriously although most adapt their celebrations according to delicate Western sensibilities.

If you’d like to celebrate Christmas with some delicious far-eastern cuisine, why not take advantage of the premier Vietnamese takeaway in East London. Visit our main site for more information.