Christmas in Vietnam: What is different?

Christmas is a special time in many countries, and Vietnam has its own fascinating way of celebrating. While it's not an official holiday, the Vietnamese people welcome Christmas with a wonderful blend of Western traditions and local customs. 

If you're curious about experiencing Christmas in Vietnam, you'll love what Incredible Asia Journeys has to offer. This blog will reveal the unique festive spirit of Christmas in Vietnam, walking you through its historical roots and the beautiful ways it's celebrated today.

1. Do people in Vietnam celebrate Christmas?

Christmas in Vietnam

Some tourists who come to Vietnam are curious “Do people celebrate Christmas in Vietnam?”, the answer is “Definitely, yes. On December 25 every year, Vietnamese celebrate Christmas though it is not a public holiday.” The celebration is most prominent in urban areas and among the Christian community, which makes up about 7% of the Vietnam population. Interestingly, the Xmas festive spirit has become a part of the broader Vietnamese cultural fabric, embraced by many as a joyous occasion for gatherings and celebrations.

2. History of Christmas in Vietnam

Now, are you curious about how Christmas, a Western holiday, can come to Vietnam, a Southeast Asia country? Let’s date back to the past! The history of Christmas in Vietnam dates back to the 16th century when missionaries from Spain, Portugal, and France, who were part of the French Empire, first introduced Christianity to the country. However, it was not until the French colonial period in the 19th century that Catholicism became more popular.

Over the years, despite historical and political changes, Christmas has maintained a presence, particularly among the Catholic population in Vietnam. Post-war Vietnam saw a gradual resurgence of Christmas celebrations, which have grown in popularity and visibility, especially in major cities like Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City.

3. Weather in Vietnam at Christmas

Enjoy Christmas in Hanoi

Vietnam in December has a diverse climate, and Vietnam at Christmas weather varies across the country:

- Northern Vietnam: December is wintertime, with cool to cold temperatures from 10°C - 18°C, especially in mountainous regions where it can be quite chilly.

- Central Vietnam: This region experiences mild and pleasant weather 15°C - 20°C, though it can sometimes be rainy.

- Southern Vietnam: The South enjoys a warm 25°C - 30°C, tropical climate during Christmas, making it ideal for outdoor festivities.

4. How does Vietnam celebrate Christmas?

During Xmas holidays in Vietnam, traditions in Vietnam for Christmas may be transformed to be familiarized with the local culture while still keeping the typical customs of this festival. Let’s take a closer look at how Vietnam celebrates Christmas!

4.1. Decorating Homes and Public Spaces

Vietnam decoration in Christmas

Decorating for Christmas is a popular activity in Vietnam. Homes, streets, shopping centers, and public areas are adorned with Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments in red and green colors. Nativity scenes, known as "Máng C", are often set up in churches and homes to depict the birth of Jesus. The vibrant Christmas decorations in Vietnam contribute to the festive spirit and make the cities look lively and cheerful during the holiday season.

4.2. Attending Midnight Mass in Local Churches

For the Catholic community in Vietnam, attending Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is a central part of the celebration. Churches across the country, especially in cities with large Christian populations like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, are beautifully decorated and hold special services that draw large crowds. Many non-Christians also attend these services to enjoy the festive atmosphere and witness the religious traditions.

4.3. Participating in Christmas Markets and Festivals

Xmas market in Vietnam

Christmas markets and festivals have become increasingly popular in Vietnam. These markets are usually set up in major cities and offer a variety of goods, including holiday decorations, gifts, and local handicrafts. They also feature food stalls selling both Vietnamese and Western festive treats. 

Christmas events in Vietnam including music, performances, and activities like caroling and Santa Claus appearances add to the festive atmosphere, making these markets a fun destination for families and friends.

4.4. Enjoy Christmas Festive Food

Christmas in Vietnam is a time for delicious food! While traditional Vietnamese dishes are still prominent, many people also enjoy Western-style Christmas foods. Popular Christmas Vietnamese food includes roasted meats, hot pots, and various sweets. 

Some high-end restaurants and hotels offer special Christmas menus featuring dishes like turkey, ham, and Christmas pudding. Families and friends gather for festive meals, sharing food and joy.

4.5. Exchanging Xmas Gifts

Gift giving in Vietnam on Christmas

Gift-giving is another common practice during Christmas in Vietnam. People exchange gifts with family, friends, and colleagues as a way of spreading joy and goodwill. Children, in particular, look forward to receiving presents from Santa Claus, known locally as Ông Già Noel. Schools, offices, and community centers often organize gift exchanges and Christmas parties, further promoting the spirit of giving.

5. Best places to celebrate Christmas in Vietnam

During your Vietnam travels, several best places to visit in Vietnam stand out for the joyful Christmas celebrations.

5.1. Hanoi

Hang Ma Street in Christmas

The first destination in the best place to spend Christmas in Vietnam list is Hanoi. Notably, the capital city of Vietnam is a vibrant place to celebrate Christmas. St. Joseph's Cathedral is one of the main centers for Christmas celebrations, hosting a beautiful Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve that attracts both locals and tourists. 

Also, the streets of the Hanoi Old Quarter are adorned with lights, decorations, and Christmas trees, creating a lively and festive atmosphere. If you want to buy decoration items, head to Hang Ma Street with a variety of Christmas trees, Christmas bells, laurel wreaths, snowmen… Additionally, the area around Hoan Kiem Lake is beautifully decorated, making it a great spot for an evening stroll to enjoy the holiday lights and festive ambiance.

5.2. Halong Bay

Halong Bay Cruise in Christmas

Halong Bay, known for its stunning natural beauty, offers a unique and tranquil setting for Christmas celebrations. Many cruise operators offer special Christmas-themed cruises, allowing guests to enjoy festive meals, decorations, and activities while sailing through the bay's picturesque limestone islands. 

Luxury resorts in the area often host Christmas events, including dinners, parties, and entertainment, providing a festive yet serene holiday experience. Celebrating Christmas in Halong Bay allows visitors to combine the holiday spirit with the breathtaking scenery of one of Vietnam’s most famous destinations. Contact Incredible Asia Journeys to book your Halong Bay cruise tour with premium hot deals for this Christmas!

5.3. Da Nang

Christmas often has cold weather in Western countries, so have you ever imagined having a Christmas beach holiday? Let’s visit Da Nang, a coastal city known for its beaches, providing a lively and festive atmosphere for Christmas. My Khe Beach is a popular spot for Christmas gatherings and events, with some beachside resorts and restaurants hosting special Christmas dinners and parties. 

Then, you can also head to the Pink Church (or Da Nang Cathedral)  to celebrate Christmas, with the unique pink color, it’s definitely an interesting place to welcome Christmas day Vietnam.

5.4. Dalat

Dalat in Christmas

Dalat, often called the “City of Eternal Spring,” is known for its cool climate and charming landscape, making it a perfect place for a cozy Christmas. The city’s numerous churches, such as the Domaine de Marie Church, St. Nicholas Cathedral (Rooster Church), and Holy Mother Church hold special Christmas services and events, creating a warm and spiritual atmosphere. 

Dalat’s French colonial architecture is beautifully adorned with Christmas lights and decorations, providing a picturesque holiday setting. The local night market offers festive foods and holiday treats, adding to the Christmas cheer.

5.5. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City in Christmas

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's largest city, is renowned for its elaborate and energetic Christmas celebrations. The Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and its surrounding area become a hub of festive activities, including Midnight Mass, Christmas caroling, and light displays. 

Moreover, Nguyen Hue Walking Street features vibrant Christmas decorations, live music, and various performances, making it a lively spot to celebrate. Shopping centers like Vincom Center and Takashimaya go all out with Christmas decorations, events, and sales, creating a festive shopping experience in the New Year Holiday in Vietnam

With many things to explore in Vietnam at Christmas, we offer many special tours on this occasion, consider intensively designed Vietnam tours below to make your Chrismas holiday in Vietnam unforgettable:

6. Interesting facts about Christmas in Vietnam

- Merry Xmas in Vietnamese can be expressed as "Giáng Sinh An Lành" or "Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh."

- Vietnam is a tropical country, so Christmas does not come with cold weather and snow like in Western countries. People often use artificial snow for decorations to create a wintry Christmas ambiance.

- Christmas in Vietnam song: Popular English Christmas carols like "Jingle Bells" and "Silent Night" are widely played. Vietnamese Christmas songs also contribute to the festive atmosphere, such as Mùa Đông Tuyết Trắng, Thánh Ca Bun, Tiếng Chuông Ngân, Hòa Nhp Giáng Sinh,...

- Christmas is not a public holiday in Vietnam, so businesses, schools, and government offices remain open.

Celebrate Christmas in Vietnam

Christmas in Vietnam is a unique blend of religious tradition and cultural adaptation, reflecting Vietnamese historical influences and contemporary enthusiasm for global festivities. Whether attending a midnight Mass, strolling through decorated streets, or enjoying a festive meal, let’s come to celebrate Christmas in Vietnam for a distinct and memorable experience!

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