Christmas is not an official public holiday in Vietnam, but that doesn't stop the Vietnamese from celebrating this occasion. In a country that's open to other cultures, where the population are just the fun-loving, outgoing people who never say no to the pretty and beautiful things, it's hard not to fall in love with Christmas here.
About 9% of the Vietnamese population are Christians, who attend church and share meals with family at home on Christmas Day. Other than that, if not for religious significance, Christmas in Vietnam is a colorful festival for all to enjoy.
There's usually this misconception that Vietnam is a hot country, so it's impossible to dress up as Santa for Christmas. While it may be true in the South where there's no winter, in Northern regions including Hanoi, the weather is cold in December, and that's even more Christmassy. Hanoians celebrate Christmas in winter clothes, drinking warm drinks and wine, so don't be surprised if things can be very similar to the version of Christmas you may have been familiar with.
Christmas means "Let's go out and party"
Unlike the idea of a holiday when families get cozy and share meals together at home, Vietnamese people, especially the young like to go to the city center where there’s a cathedral just to witness the celebration. Christmas is a ‘motivation’ to dress well and hang out, get together and also party. Businesses are open as usual so it’s very crowded on Christmas.
…and it’s on the 24th of December. In Vietnam, Christmas Eve is celebrated more than Christmas Day. For many, the idea of Christmas is only on the 24th of December, not the 25th. Either way, we still have to go to work the next day.
Locations for Christmas eve in Hanoi and where most people go to
While the Christian community attend church services and gather with family members, the non-Christian Vietnamese, especially the young like to go to the city center where there’s a cathedral to witness the celebration and enjoy the atmosphere.
Hang Ma Street
Located in Hanoi Old Quarter, Hang Ma is an iconic street for any festival that the Vietnamese celebrate. It’s popular because of all the local shops that sell toys, decoration items and became a sparkling, colorful street all year round, so Christmas is surely a beautiful scene here.
The neo-gothic cathedral has always been a must visit place in the heart of Hanoi, for both locals and tourists. The cathedral, as a tourist attraction with impressive architecture receive high number of visitors daily, let alone during Christmas. With its’ special religious meaning, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is where most Christians gather for the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
Cua Bac church
The church was built in 1927 and is an important part of Hanoi’s history. Cua Bac church today is frequently visited by the international-Christian community living in this city. Christmas is quite the scene here, with lights on display, crowds and crowds of people and music performances.
Ham Long church
Ham Long church is far from being a famous place for foreign tourists compared to St.Joseph’s Cathedral, yet, the Christmas scene will still be crowded, but in a much more local atmosphere. The church is located in a classic, charming Hanoian neighborhood, so this is a great place if you’d like to have a local experience of Christmas in Hanoi.