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While it won’t be a white Christmas, Vietnam gets into the festive spirit with colored lights, tinsel and brightly decorated trees popping up all over its major cities. The country’s newly-built malls are blaring carols and even the Buddhist majority is happy to exchange Christmas cards and enjoy turkey and mince tarts at fancy hotels.
On December 24th, thousands of Saigonese flock to the iconic red brick Notre-Dame Basilica (built between 1863 and 1880) for Midnight Mass. In Hanoi, it’s standing-room-only at the Gothic St. Joseph’s Cathedral (opened in 1886). Churches in smaller towns are also packed, with everyone wearing their finest festive clothing.
Every country has its own Christmas traditions and Vietnam is no exception. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, vendors fill the streets carrying bamboo poles strung with fuzzy Santa hats and toddler-sized Santa suits. On Christmas Day, parents seat their red-and-white-clad kids on motorbikes and zoom around to admire the brightly-lit streets.
A long-time Vietnam resident, Canadian artist and illustrator Elka Ray has captured some of Vietnam’s seasonal fun with a collection of hand-drawn Vietnam-themed cards.