Christmas falls in line with Buddha’s Birthday, the New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival as being one of the most important holidays in Vietnam. It may not be as widely celebrated, but it is still an important day for any Vietnamese people. Read our guide to Christmas in Vietnam below.
When is Christmas in Vietnam?
Christmas in Vietnam also takes place on December 25th, although Christmas Eve is considered more important than the day itself.
Is Christmas Celebrated in Vietnam?
Yes. While most of Vietnamese people practice Buddhism or Taoism, many became Christian while under French rule. Today, around 11% of the general population follow Christianity, with a large proportion of those being in the south of the country. With the increase of tourism and Western visitors, Christmas has grown as a celebration and it’s common to see Christmas trees and hear carols in shops and cafes in the weeks leading up to the 25th.
Christianity attended French colonialism but the first missionaries pre-date that by many years. The Catholic community is a minority in Vietnam, so when Communism took power in 1975, church and state relations changed. Christmas, along with other Christian holidays, was practiced in privacy.
Since the American War and Reunification, the relationship with Christians and the state hasn’t always been good, but with time and more liberal policies, Christianity became more warmly welcomed into the fabric of Vietnam’s identity. Nowadays, Christmas is widely recognized and celebrated.
Where Should You Spend Christmas in Vietnam?
If you are looking to spend Christmas in Vietnam and attend Christmas Mass, then your best options are in the cities where you will have access to a Catholic Church. In cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, you can easily attend mass. Phat Diem Cathedral in Ninh Binh Province is the most popular spiritual place for Vietnamese Catholics, and therefore is a main site for Catholics from around the country to attend Christmas Eve Mass. There are Catholic Churches in Hoi An and Da Nang.
What is Christmas Like in Vietnam?
It is celebrated in a similar manner to other countries that recognize Christmas as a holiday. However, Christmas Eve is considered more important than Christmas Day. On that day Christmas masses are held and nativity scenes are placed in front of parishes and homes. In Ho Chi Minh City, young people crowd the city center around the Catholic Cathedral, enjoying the decorations and going out for food.
On Christmas Eve, the popular dessert that is shared or given as a gift is ‘bûche de Noël’ (chocolate log cake). Gifts are exchanged, although this is more for children. It is also another time to spend with family and friends.
Merry Christmas in Vietnamese is “Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh”.