Christmas in Vietnam.

There didn’t use to be many “Peace on earth” window signs in Vietnam. When I first moved to Vietnam, few people celebrated Christmas. As a result of French occupation, there were only a few Catholics who observed the holiday.

By 2001, more foreigners had flooded into the country. And Hay Ba Trung Street had the largest Christmas decoration store in Ho Chi Minh. Everyone knew to go to this shop for their lights and accessories. The quality was cheap, but it was obvious a new excitement had come to the country.

Over the next several years there was an explosion of lights and glitter throughout the city.

For our part, we hosted many Christmas parties. I recall one at which there was a discussion about Santa and Jesus. One of our guests asked, “When did Santa arrive for the birth of Jesus?”

I just smiled.

The youth have made their own Christmas tradition. They celebrate by staying out with friends all Christmas eve night. They don’t go home until sometime the next day. Most are quite surprised to learn Westerners celebrate the holiday on the 25th.

Culture is a wonderful phenomenon, ever growing, ever changing. Some embrace this. Others resist. One constant is true: we desire happiness. On some level, we all want to say, “Peace on earth, and goodwill to men and women everywhere.”

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