Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year, along with the Buddha’s birthday, Tet (the lunar 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.
Phat Diem Cathedral in Ninhbinh Province is considered the spiritual home for the seven million Catholics who live here in Vietnam, a predominantly Buddhist nation. Hundreds of Catholics gather for Christmas Eve Mass in the northern city of Phat Diem. Children stage a nativity play to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ-or Kito, as he is known in Vietnamese-in front of the city’s cathedral, built in 1891.
On Christmas Eve, Hanoians throng to the Catholic Cathedral in the city center. The streets are crowded with people and cars are banned for the night. People celebrate by throwing confetti, talking pictures, and enjoying the Christmas decorations and lights of hotels and department stores. Sidewalk cafes and restaurants are open so revelers can keep their lips wet for singing Christmas carols. As former colony, there are still French influences in the Christmas traditions of Vietnam.
Many Catholic churches have a nativity scene or creche with nearly life-size statues of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and animals. In some areas of Ho Chi Minh City, usually in Catholic parishes, people have crib scenes in front of their houses and decorate the whole street, turning them into Christmas neighborhoods.
Also as in France, in Vietnam Christmas Eve dinner in called reveillon and has a buche de Noel ( a chocolate cake in the shape of a log ) for dessert. Vietnamese people like to give presents of food and a buche de Noel is a popular gift. Other Christmas presents are not very common, although some young people like to exchange Christmas cards.
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 Vietnamese is “Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh“ !!!
What should you do in Vietnam on Christmas?
Visit Joseph Cathedral or Nha Tho Lon in Vietnamese
Enjoy city tour in the old quarter for Christmas preparation of Vietnamese people
Have lunch in KOTO restaurant, operated by Vietnamese- Australian man, is the charity center for homeless children.
In Halong Bay:
Spend an enjoyable night on luxury cruise with seafood and sparkling wine
Dine in Vuon Y Thao restaurant for famous Vietnamese royal cuisine introduction and tasty
Visit Hue Cathedral for amazing architecture and building story
Visit City of Hoian for early history of Christianity’s arrival in Vietnam
Bike along riverside road from Hoi An Center to Cua Dai Beach for beautiful country landscape and daily life of Vietnamese farmer.
In Hochiminh City
Visit the most famous and beautiful church in Hochiminh Notre-Dame Basilica and enjoy Christmas celebration with Vietnamese people
In Mekong Delta:
Visit floating market and evergreen small canal
Enjoy Vietnamese music performance and taste local fruits.