Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Hanoi

You can’t avoid Christmas in Hanoi. Stores are covered in decorations, Christmas trees stand at the front of restaurants and lights, especially in my part of town, cover bars and shops. Christmas CD stocks must have run out because ever café I go to has bad Christmas carol remixes blasting away. The waitresses wear Christmas hats and often hum away their favorite tunes. Many restaurants have put on Christmas menus so whatever your traditional feast; you are bound to find it.

Riding into town today I saw a Vietnamese guy fully dressed as Santa zooming along on his motorbike. The schools have Christmas parties and depending on the place has either Christmas Eve or Christmas day off. For us it is Christmas Eve so tomorrow morning we are off to work. In my school, the kids are being taught Christmas songs by their Vietnamese teachers. They are more than happy to sing to me when I come to class.

For two years now, I have somehow been roped into being Santa. I had avoided that role for 26 years but it seems in Vietnam there is no escaping it. I had to play Santa for 1,200 kids last year which was a nightmare. This year my neighbor asked me to be Santa for a kids party at her house. I arrived home from work to a house full of screaming kids waiting for Santa. I was quickly transformed into my Santa suit and slid into their house avoiding their prying eyes. I walked down their stares to the bottom floor to deafening screams from around 30 kids. Their parents were all taking photos. It was a random experience. I said my “Ho Ho Ho’s” and gave each of the kids a present. Many of them took the present with apprehension; a fearful expression on their face. I am not sure if it was the white beard or big nose that scared them. In any case, they were mostly happy and excited. It is very clear that the Christmas gimmick is alive in Hanoi.

Today we are having lunch with our flat mate and her boyfriend. It will be a multi-cultural affair with representations from Australia, France, South Africa and America. Celine has suggested trying something traditional from each of the countries. So I guess that is frois gras and smoked salmon from France and maybe ham from Australia. I am not sure on the other inclusions yet. Tomorrow, after working in the morning, we are heading out for Christmas lunch with one of our Vietnamese friends.

I am waiting for Celine in a café, listening to Silent Night. Celine is in Toy Street, buying the last of the Christmas shopping. When I dropped her off it was packed with Vietnamese buying last minute gifts for their kids. She is braver than I am because than did not look like fun. I am not a big fan of shopping.
This will be our second, and last, Christmas in Hanoi and it has definitely been interesting to experience how the Vietnamese celebrate it. I am not sure where we will be next year but I can only hope my Santa days are over.

1 comment:

  1. May be, next Christmas, you'll be with me, with us, in France.... à Saint Julien......