Vietnam | Sharing the Christmas Message
November 26, 2009
Christmas in Vietnam is rather low-key compared to other festivals. This is because Christianity is not one of the traditional religions of Vietnam. While people know of Christmas, it is mainly Christians who observe the religious rituals of Christmas. However, it is celebrated with much enthusiasm by those who do.
As with most countries, Christmas decorations are visible mainly in the big cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City. Some Christian families would decorate a Christmas tree with colorful lights. In some areas where most of the residents are Catholic, they might decorate the entire street.
Hotels, supermarkets and restaurants also decorate their premises beautifully for Christmas, and the decorations are not unlike those in the west. These places also play Christmas carols during the festive season, but caroling door-to-door is not practiced.
However, when it comes to food, Vietnamese people do not prepare special food for Christmas as is familiar in the west. Even cakes with Christmas decorations, such as a Christmas tree, are not necessarily representative of how the season is celebrated in Vietnam. Some people do not even prepare any food for Christmas! They would gather in a restaurant and have a meal with family. Christian families might prepare a meal at home for family and friends. There is usually a main dish that is different from year to year. If the main dish this year is fish, they will have something different next year, such as beef. Some families might even buy fast food from Kentucky Fried Chicken or McDonald’s to save time.
Most people outside the cities do not know about Santa Claus. Parents in the cities might buy presents for their children, but exchanging gifts during Christmas is not a common practice among the people. If the children are good, they will get bigger presents!
Churches would hold special services for believers on Christmas Eve. These services usually comprise special items such as dramas, songs and the like.
Catholic churches in Vietnam usually conduct these services very late at night. Some churches take this opportunity to reach out to the community. Last year, there was even a massive Christmas outreach that was organised in Ho Chi Minh City by local churches. This Christmas concert outreach attracted about ten thousand people, and by the end of the evening, about 1,000 people came to the Lord.
Over the years, Christmas has become more popular in Vietnam. The middle class pay more attention to the decorations and parties. However, for those who live in rural areas, they often do not do anything special for Christmas as they do not have time after a hard day’s work or are too poor to prepare anything special. Also, as they live in the countryside surrounded by few fellow believers, they might feel uncomfortable doing something different as it would seem out of place.
Pray with us that more people will come to know the Lord through Christmas outreaches this year. We also invite you to come alongside these believers in their new journey, and give towards programs that help shepherd new believers in Vietnam.