Many of you will be surprised to learn that Christmas in Vietnam is *huge*. And I don't mean the Vietnamese kinda sorta like it. They freaking LOVE Christmas. The Vietnamese have taken to Christmas like Packers fans to brats, cheese and tailgating.
Last night I went to a Christmas Eve service at a Catholic Chuch in Saigon with some Vietnamese friends. It was a lot like services in the States, except with a uniquely Vietnamese twist. All the familiar songs were there -- "Silent Night, Holy Night" etc -- but with Vietnamese lyrics. There were lots of colorful lights and many images of Santa and reindeer in the accompanying slide show presented to the left of the stage. It was quite well done, and felt suitably "Christmas-y."
One of the many choruses that performed. All were quite good.
Close-up of the earnest young performers.
Lyrics were projected helpfully on the wall to the left of the performers.
These girls filed in solemnly, struggling to keep their candles from going out under the powerful fans cooling the room.
The kids performed a smashing rendition of a biblical scene. Budding actors, all.
I'm not sure what this couple sang, but it made me feel all warm and Christmas-y inside.
After the service, my friends took me on a crazy tour of the Christmas lights, animatronic Santas and Baby Jesus scenes in a few neighborhoods in the city. Here I am with one of my friends, Cuong. One incredibly surreal scene was a girl cozying up to an 8 foot tall animatronic Santa. She was standing on a step ladder, rubbing Santa's belly and beaming from ear to ear having her picture taken. Wish I had a shot of that.
Check out some of Jon's great pics of outdoor Christmas decorations in Saigon here.