As you celebrate the holidays with your family and friends, perhaps you can share how these holidays are celebrated in other countries. Perhaps open the discussion of planning a family vacation to Vietnam or Thailand for next year!
Christmas in Vietnam “Chuc Mung Giang Sinh”
As it is in many homes in the U.S., Christmas Eve in Vietnam is more celebrated than Christmas Day! Although, there are many more Buddhists than Christians in Vietnam, Christmas is celebrated widely and festively in Vietnam, especially in the larger cities. Since Vietnam was previously part of the French Empire, many of the French influences in the Christmas traditions are very much a part of the Vietnam culture. In Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, there is a beautiful Catholic Cathedral in the city center. Cars are not allowed in the city center for Christmas Eve, permitting people to crowd the streets to celebrate by throwing confetti, taking pictures (yes, many selfies!) while enjoying the colorful decorations and lights of the big hotels and department stores. Food is a big part of any holiday celebration in Vietnam, so there are many cafes and restaurants open for friends to enjoy a snack while sharing memories of past Christmases. Most of the Catholic churches exhibit a touching nativity scene or ‘crèche,’ showing statues of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the shepherds and animals…a delightful sight for all!
Christmas in Thailand “Sawadee Pee Mai”
As in most Southeast Asian countries, the percentage of Christians is very small; most of the population is Buddhist. Thailand has a long holiday season just as we do here in the US. It starts in November with their Loy Krathong, Festival of Lights, where it is believed that the negativity and problems of the past year are sent away with Krathongs on the water, and Khum Loi (floating lanterns) in the air, in the hope that good things will come to you in the new year. Then, on the 5th of December, there is a grand celebration for the King’s Birthday. Much of the public decoration for this festival is on display through the Christmas season. Although Christmas Day is not a public holiday in Thailand, many Thais do celebrate this holiday, especially in the big cities. Bangkok is certainly fully decorated and a beautiful sight to see. The shopping malls are all ‘decked out’ for the holiday and the amazing Thai passion for beauty and fashion is evident all around the cities. Many of our Western celebrations such as gift giving, family gatherings and especially those special food celebrations are found in Thai homes and restaurants. Yes, there even is a Santa Claus. Like Western Santas, Thailand’s St. Nick often wears a bright red costume – but his is likely to be adorned with elegant Asian motifs rather than fur trim.
If you want to plan a ‘family vacation’ for next year’s holiday season, call V’explore Tours to help you set up a customized tour for you and your family. But, call soon, as holiday time is very busy in both Vietnam and Thailand—flights and hotels are full and guides are very busy. Be sure to allow enough time for us to set up an amazing journey that will give you and your family memories to cherish every holiday season to come. Our wish for the New Year in this troubled world is … PEACE for everyone!
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