Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmas in Vietnam

Vietnam is about 90% Buddhist, but you wouldn't know it judging from the omnipresence of all things Christmas. A walk through the main streets of Saigon will leave you drenched in a sea (the metaphor seemed okay when I thought of it) of red, green and white tinsel, and your ears polluted by the sounds of tacky Christmas carols being blared out of shop fronts. According to some who had been here a while, major public Christmas celebrations have only started in Vietnam in the past couple of years. Based on that, I'd suggest that Vietnam is like the little boy who has just discovered his genitals, and now can't stop playing with them. The Christmas paraphenalia is so much more in-your-face then anything experienced back home.

Given that Catholics are only a small part of the population, it seems clear that any notion of the spiritual side of Christmas is minimal. Instead, this is naked commercial opportunism, and the Vietnamese have taken to it with gusto. The spread of Christmas as a mainstrem public celebration can be tracked alongside the growth of major chain stores and internationally owned shopping centres, all of which have much to gain through the promotion of Christmas as a big public occassion. All we need now is the Boxing Day test in downtown Saigon, and December in Vietnam would be complete. I might be waiting a while.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ari,

This is my first visit to your site and I've enjoyed reading what you've got here.

I am currently living in China but I'll be taking a 2-week swing through Vietnam on the way home to the US for winter vacation. I was wondering if you could tell me about the internet facilities in most cafes in Vietnam. I have a blog of my own and I'm hoping to keep it current through my trip posting observations like you have done. Specifically, I'm wondering whether its possible to upload photos from a digital camera in most internet cafes. Basically, do the computers have USB ports that you can use to transfer your photos? You can email me at mewaters[at]metanoiac[dot]com if you don't want to respond in the comments. It's actually a bit difficult for me to access your blog in China because blogspot.com is blocked and the proxy server I use is down for the moment.

Cheers and keep up the good work,

Matt Waters
from METANOIAC!

Anonymous said...

Very little sign of Xmas in Bangkok and it is totally absent here in the Holy Land. Very little evidence of the approaching new year although we have overheard a few shana tovahs which comfused us a little - is it grand final time so soon. C

Anonymous said...

Hey Ari,

What happens when said boy discovers that having only one ball is not the norm?

Need I even attach my name? Only one person could write this!

Jacks xox