Christmas in Saigon

I always find myself magnetically drawn towards churches this time of year. There is a sense warmth and love in any prayer house and whilst I personally have no devotion to any God it is sometimes nice to be around those who do – particularly at Christmas!

Christmas time in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is a special time of year when the city’s countless churches really put on a show. Literally! Come Christmas Eve even the smallest church will put on their own Broadway-shaming stage shows and singing performances. It’s going to have to be darn good though if it wants to outshine the blinding lights and Christmas caves!

The feeling of community, togetherness and love is no stronger in Saigon than when you head to a church at Christmas and it’s times of the year like that remind me that kids are clearly the number one priority in Vietnam. The night is unofficially dedicated to them – and those who wish to act like them. Fake snow and bubbles blow down off steeples and tumble over the grandiose front steps. Flashing toys and Christmas carols attempt to compete with to church’s #1 singers and there is always the the odd helium-filled balloon floating upwards to it’s freedom, having slipped out from those small sweaty hands.

Large families wander the church grounds eating and  drinking between the chatting and playing games before Mass. Hundreds of mums and dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins converge on every local house of god, occasionally with grandparents in tow.

The younger ones are always pressured by their elders to come speak to me and show of their English. “How are you?” I’ll often be asked and I try not to always reply with the default standard and very mundane “I’m fine thank you, and you?” but sometimes if I don’t it confuses them.

Below is a slideshow of some of my favourite photos from a night church hopping in Saigon’s Go Vap District – the city’s most christian-populated district.

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2 thoughts on “Christmas in Saigon

  1. Hello! 🙂

    I had to share the first paragraph with a couple of friends, then I told them that’s what I exactly feel. I’m spiritual, but never religious. But I find comfort, a fascination, for those who believe in their gods, no matter which religion. I live in the Philippines, an extremely conservative country who is pretty anal when it comes to religion, which is Catholicism. I grew up in a Catholic school too. I’ve picked up some values along the way, and a lot of those I attribute from reading the bible, theology classes, etc. I loved Thailand because of the abundance of temples. If given the chance to choose a religion, I’d go for buddhism. But then that would kill my parents. Haha!

    I thought Vietnam’s population believed more in pagan beliefs. It’s interesting to know that some of them celebrate Christmas and don’t try to hide it.

    1. Try not to let anyone else’s belief automatically become yours or control you, otherwise this becomes a kind of blind devotion and no one can find fulfillment in that. Dhamma and the teachings of Gotoma The Buddah are taught in the form of Vipassana meditation and will help give anyone from any religion or sect, the answers they are looking for.

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