Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas weekend in Saigon

Only a few days left to Christmas. Weeks before we already feel the holiday atmosphere, the hurry-up mood everywhere in the city, especially this morning, probably thanks to the cold air from North, Saigon's weather is suddenly and unusually getting colder . Perfect for X-mas time. In the North, up to Sapa, the highland, it's recently heavily snowing. Imagine…snowing in Vietnam, it's not a global warming!?  

             To avoid the night crowd many young people prefer the morning shoot.  

Back to my city - Saigon, people living here celebrated Christmas since…very long time, much long before I was born, I remember in the past we used to call it "Noel" rather than Vietnamese "Giáng Sinh", the word "Noel" was so popular in our speaking language. We also used to call the Christmas Eve dinner "réveillon" and the cake - "buche de Noel"… yeah, the French heritage! But now "Noel" replaced by "Christmas", "réveillon" by "party", "buche" by cake or trendy cupcakes. French really gone!

            X-mas decoration in front of Vincom Mall in Đồng Khởi street.

               Christmas cupcakes at L'usine - a trendy coffee shop on Le Loi street 

The majority of people living in Saigon is Buddhist, maybe up to 70-80% (?) but Christmas is no longer a religious festive, everyone celebrate and love to keep that holidays feeling for another week till the New Year, esp. among the youth. It's almost impossible to go to Saigon downtown or some other public places, esp. near to the church during this X-mas night. Incredible crowd there!

               another unfinished decoration in front of a shopping mall in Lê Thánh Tôn street. 

I remember my first holiday in San Jose, California, after the 9/11.  It was almost no soul on the street, everyone stayed at home with family during that Holy night. I was staying at my friend's family at that time, to be honest it was quite boring. I didn't know anyone of my friend's relatives, never met them before, but the most killing me thing (I did hope because of my jet lag) when we spent hours to open the gifts, to scream in joy (really?). Anyway it was interesting to know how Vietnamese living in US celebrate the X-mas night.

Saigon is very colourful these days and will be very busy until the Lunar New Year which is not far away. Time really flies! When we are getting older, we do feel time passing so fast, but are we in hurry doing something that we missed in the past? I wish I could do many things at the same time as before, more decisive, more confident…but it obviously changed with age, I guess. I still have some plans and many dreams for the future. 

                                      A huge paper Christmas tree in Đổng Khởi street... 

It's good to see Saigon like this, dressing up for the holiday seasons, but very strange when I saw this year decoration theme for the city. Lotus ? The authorities may want to keep it to the Lunar New Year? Lotus is a nice flower, considered as our national symbol, but decorating the whole place with Lotus…I don't know but I personally feel - not a right choice. I do hope it looks better at night when the light is up. Anyway, not always easy for the authorities to come up with the good ideas every time!  

             This year decoration theme for New Year - Lotus! 

               and here we go…the Lotus decoration theme at night… 

Talking about Christmas, we can't ignore what we'll eat in that special night. Today we have so many choices, either reserve a X-mas Eve dinner ++ (all taxes added!) at the luxury hotel, or get together with friends at some nice coffee-terrace to enjoy the street view or simply hold a dinner at home with loved ones. 

              Lovely house with X-mas decoration in the upscale area...

For Vietnamese we don't have any special traditional meal for X-mas, do whatever we want to celebrate the night but most people will order the X-mas cake - a Yule log (or we often called "buche de Noel" in the old days). I love making cake but I'm not good at the frosting, will surely make a mess of the kitchen, so my best choice for this occasion was a fruit cake, not only because I love the cinnamon, orange and liquor flavour in the cake, but also because I really don't like to clean the mess with frosting!         

                 My favourite fruit cake, I soaked the fruits mix in liquor weeks before… 

I finish my post here with a very popular Vietnamese X-mas song "Cave in Bethlehem", created in 1945 by a Vietnamese Christian composer. As kid I used to remember by heart…only the first sentences! Nowadays the youth surely has a different choice, different taste for music.

Đêm đông, lạnh lẽo Chúa sinh ra đời
Chúa sinh ra đời nằm trong hang đá nơi máng lừa
Trong hang Bêlem, ánh sáng tỏa lan tưng bừng
Nghe trên không trung tiếng hát thiên thần vang lừng
Đàn hát, réo rắt tiếng hát, xướng ca, dư âm vang xa.
Đây Chúa thiên tòa giáng sinh vì ta.
Người hỡi, hãy kịp bước tới, đến xem, nơi hang Bêlem
Ôi Chúa giáng sinh khó khăn thấp hèn...

1 comment:

  1. I miss Saigon, I miss the crazy atmosphere there during the holiday...thanks for nice post.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...