Seasons Greetings from Saigon! (Do they know it Christmas?)

First of all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018 to all those chums who may remember me.  Many of you will not associate Christmas with the Asian country I have lived in for now over twenty years.

The answer to the question in the tag line is not easy. The ten million or so Vietnamese Catholics certainly do(there are a further 400,000 Protestants mainly in the highlands. But when you see penguins alongside Santa in a store window frieze you begin to doubt many of them do. I once asked a class who the main figure in Christianity was? An answer came back-Santa Claus! However Church services are much better attended than in England and are packed at Christmas. Outside the Notre Dame Saigon (replica of the one in Paris) there are crowds of curious non believers every 24 December.

Christmas comes earlier here with decorations up starting in late November They are absolutely everywhere not only in stores but also in all the hotels, offices, schools, hospitals, the university where I work and restaurants.

Whilst I get even more of a Christmassy feeling in Saigon than in England there are many areas in the countryside where there a few Christians and the festival passes by largely unmarked.

Finally it is possible to build a snowman in Vietnam. It snows some years in the highest villages in the Northern highlands.

Philip Drury


Picture is of family (I am the one who most closely ressembles Santa with wife,daughter and grand-daughters)

Philip Drury (1966-1973) Teacher and Journalist.