Christmas in Vietnam: bookending a long festival season

Here's my latest essay for VNExpress International. Even though the percentage of Vietnamese who celebrate December 25 as the birth of Jesus Christ is in the single digits, Christmas has evolved into a full-fledged secular holiday in recent years. A sure sign Christmas is approaching is when elaborate and colorful holiday displays at banks and … Continue reading Christmas in Vietnam: bookending a long festival season

Of Fish & Kitchen Gods: A Tết Ritual Needs To Be Carried Out in a Humane & Non-Polluting Manner

Dead carp floating in the To Lich River in Hanoi on Thursday. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh (February 2018) On a recent commute to my office, I noticed numerous signs on the bridge over the Red River. They asked people not to throw fish into water river below. As this 2018 article notes, "the ritual is an … Continue reading Of Fish & Kitchen Gods: A Tết Ritual Needs To Be Carried Out in a Humane & Non-Polluting Manner

Christmas in Viet Nam

St. Joseph's Cathedral, Hanoi. Photo by MAA Having lived in Viet Nam for over 15 years, I can say with absolute certainty that I enjoy Christmas here more than in the US. Even though most Vietnamese are not Christian, it is still a special and even magical time. You see children (and adults!) posing for photos … Continue reading Christmas in Viet Nam

Chinese vs. Lunar New Year: A Mini-Lesson in Cultural Sensitivity

Image courtesy of Báo giao thông Since it's that time of year again and the Lunar Year of the Rat is right around the corner, I feel compelled to state the obvious. With all due respect to China, it does not have a monopoly on this or any other Lunar New Year. Tết Nguyên Đán … Continue reading Chinese vs. Lunar New Year: A Mini-Lesson in Cultural Sensitivity