Christmas in Vietnam

Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year, they being. Although the Christians observed the religious rituals of Christmas.

Merry Christmas

In Vietnam, Christmas is one of the four main annual festivals (other than the birthday of Buddha, the New Year and the mid-autumn festival). It is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ, known here as “Kito”. The fesival is observed here with great gusto despite the fact that Buddhism is the dominant religion in Vietnam and Christians form only a minority.

Catholics originally formed a small population in the country but they used to celebrate Christmas quite peacefully right from the days of the French rule. But all that changed when the Communists came to power in 1975. Being atheists, they could never get along with the Church and Christmas began to be celebrated privately. However, liberalist policies adopted since the 1980s saw Vietnam get influenced by the western influences and ideals. This helped in the comeback of Christmas in the country.

Today, Christmas is one of the major festivals in Vietnam and celebrated with much enthuisiasm by people of almost all religious communities. In Ho Chi Minh City, Christmas is a big event and celebrated quite in the European tradition. The Christmas decorations here are more or less similar to the Western Christmas beautifications.

On Christmas Eve, devout Christians attend a midnight Mass. Thereupon, they return to their homes for the Christmas supper. The Christmas supper is the most important meal of the Vietnamese Christmas. The menu for the common people traditionally consists of chicken soup, while the well-heeled have turkey and Christmas pudding. For Vietnamese Catholics, Phat Diem (a city in North Vietnam) holds a special religious significance. Hundreds of Catholics congregate here for Christmas Eve. Children stage a nativity play in the church to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Children in Vietnam believe in the existence of Santa Claus and put their shoes in front of their doors on Christmas Eve. On the morning of 25th December, they wake up to find their boots filled with treats and presents laid under the Christmas tree.


Merry Christmas in HanoiOnce again it’s the time of year when our landlord hangs a Christmas wreath from our front door. This year we’d beat him to it with some decorations of our own, but he was undeterred:

Such is the Vietnamese dedication to Christmas decorations. And they certainly wouldn’t let a little thing like not even celebrating Christmas stand in the way of their polystyrene snowmen and saxophonist Santas. 

I’ve written about the Vietnamese take on Christmas for Crikey, and since ’tis the season for slacking off, I’m going to grant myself a blogging holiday and just point you in the direction of that post: Christmas without the tradition and religion? Welcome to Vietnam. 

Thanks to everyone who read the blog this year, and especially to those who left comments, which are like little blogging presents under the Christmas tree. Merry Christmas to you all!

Christmas in Vietnam

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