Sure, we all know that Christmas in the western world seems to be more economic consumption than religion these days – so why should that be any different here? The strange thing is that in Vietnam it seems to be about neither. There’s very little reference to anything religious about Christmas and there is really no one out shopping for gifts except for expats. So why do the Vietnamese care about Christmas? Sorry, but I can’t really answer that – I need another year here I think to figure that out. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve observed so far.
Merry Merry Christmas
First off, they refer to Christmas as Merry Christmas here. For example, I frequently get asked, “Teacher, what are you going to do for Merry Christmas?” I find it actually kind of charming…it always reminds me that it is a merry holiday; or no matter how depressed I may be about being on my own for Christmas…at least I can be doubly reminded that I should be merry.
Decking the Halls
It’s Dec. 23rd and I walked by a crew working at constructing yet another Christmas light display in front of a hotel/shop. In the US, the decorations start going up on Nov. 1st, here they go up on Dec. 21st! As I see the people frantically working to put their fake snowmen together and the reindeer carefully placed near the door, I wonder if they are going to all of this work to simply take it down again in a week. I’m assuming not. Why would anyone go to 2 weeks of work to set something up to simply tear it down again right away? Then again, nothing surprises me here.
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