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.