The idea of spending Christmas time in a tropical country like Vietnam seems to be weird, especially when you know that the number of Catholics in Vietnam is not significant. However, my spontaneous decision finally turns out into a surprising and delightful experience.
Coming from Scotland, Christmas to me means freezing fog and snow, massive sales season, decorating a Christmas tree, seeing beautiful displays of Christmas lights in shopping malls, buying presents and cards for other people, having a nice time with my parents and eating roasted turkey in cozy dining room. That is what I used to have in the past 20 years and I will never regret that I am in Hanoi this year. The way people celebrate Christmas is quite joyful in many ways.
Christmas is a foreign holiday in Vietnam. Many people here even do not know that it is Jesus’s birthday and that is how it got its name, but they still adopt the holiday on a certain level. I find the decorations and preparation for Christmas here quite interesting. Shops decorate their windows with Christmas motifs. Department stores set up their outdoor display with giant artificial snowmans, colourful gift boxes, plastic pine tree and sparkling Christmas tree ornaments. It is quite bizarre to see snow and snowman in a tropical climate. Winter in Hanoi is never cold enough to have snow. So, in attempt to duplicate the spirit of Christmas in Western country, people here create fake snow from a spay can or using cotton wool.
Rhyme of Christmas songs at loud volume are blared from speakers in front of electronic stores and department stores all over the city. Light displays in Hanoi are quite impressive. Lights are shaped into Santa Clause, reindeer, snow flake, meteor… and hang on trees and buildings, adding to the festive atmosphere at night.
I find little kids dressed up in Santa Clause costume or thin men driving motorbikes like a school of fish are the most amusing. Although it is a bit weird but they seem to be happy and get into the festive spirit.
Christmas in Hanoi is very different but I still have the joyful time. There is so much joy going on here so live it up and have a very Merry Christmas in Hanoi, everyone >:D<