From sleigh to moped


http://www.economist.com/blogs/asiaview/2010/12/christmas_vietnam

Ho, Ho, Ho in Ho Chi Minh City. Toys for tots, delivered by Santa on moped.

When the US pulled out of Vietnam, it played “White Christmas” on Armed Forces radio.

Now, it’s peace-time Vietnam, where people enjoy every bit of cotton and confetti used to decorate the city’s manger.

I was there two years ago at that same spot just to witness my friend’s got pick pocketed.

Posing for a picture might cost you dearly.

But people in Vietnam do seem to enjoy the crowd and festivities.

Here in the US, on Christmas Day, all the stores, including fast food chains, are closed (except for liquor stores).

What a contrast!

Yet, both seem to move up one notch on the extended families scale: the atomized US culture makes allowance for families reunion, while the extended family culture in Vietnam  joins the whole city in celebration. Whatever the reason for the season, people feel a need to embrace, to be appreciated (gifting) and to loosen their purses (hopefully giving to charity).

French cultural residue still shows, when people say “Joyeux  Noel“.

As if on cue, I have a Facebook friend who decided to post Francois Hardy’s C’est Le Temps de L’Amour.  People are seen to hang out in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon, taking pictures and taking in the scene.

When I was in Cote d’Ivoire, I sensed a deja vu. It turned out that former Saigon is not too culturally distant from Abidjan. We all read about refugees began to pour over to neighboring Liberia (which some years back had its own instability) in anticipation of a military intervention there to enforce election results.

If you ask the people there, chances are they would say they celebrate Christmas as well, but not in the form you would recognize (longer church service for one). So Santa has to adapt, from one country to the next, and in Vietnam, from one District to another on mopeds.

It must be very hot in that bright red suit in Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Ho Ho, Hot, Hot, Hot.

 

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