By Blake Hyfield

Spending Christmas in Vietnam

Christmas 1969 – I was serving at a fire support base in Vietnam with the U.S. Army. I recall no Christmas music on Armed Forces Radio until the 24th, no or limited decorations and on Christmas morning I opened a small package from home … pretty much a lonely quiet day. I reached out to others to share their remembrances of Vietnam Christmases and got a number of varied responses. I also did a bit of internet research on what Christmas is like in Vietnam, the country. (

Jim 1 writes – I believe we had an aluminum tree set on top of our bunker. Don’t remember much else; it was 51 years ago. What has happened to the time?
Tony writes – I didn’t last till Christmas. After three months in hospitals, I made it home the Friday before Christmas!

Jim 2 writes – 67 Pleiku, South Vietnam. Bob Hope Show on Christmas Eve (my birthday).

Small service by chaplain at MACV compound. One-day truce.

Dick writes – I made a tree out of empty Bud cans with an Old Crow bottle on top.

David writes – Never felt so alone even though I was surrounded by guys who were in the

same circumstances.

Jim 3 writes I was in the Navy as a Seabee in DaNang then. My buddy worked part time at

the USO in our compound and brought several Christmas care packages that he found in a

CONEX of theirs. They were from Sunday school kids. They included letters from the kids.

Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, church-state relations have not always been smooth. However, relations have been improving since the introduction of economic reforms in the late 1980s. Liberalizing policies adopted since the 1980s saw Vietnam warming up to weste   rn influences and ideals and Christmas in Vietnam came back triumphantly. Now Christmas is one of the major festivals in Vietnam, celebrated with much fanfare by all religious communities.

Christmas in Vietnam is a huge event, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and the Vietnamese Christmas celebrations here are like any other city in the western world. The Christians in Vietnam attend a midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and return home to a sumptuous Christmas dinner. The Christmas dinner usually consists of chicken soup while wealthier people eat turkey and Christmas pudding.

On Christmas Eve, Vietnamese people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, especially young people, like to go into the city center. The streets are crowded with people on Christmas Eve and in the city center cars are not allowed for the night. People celebrate by throwing confetti, taking pictures and enjoying the Christmas decorations and lights of big hotels and department stores. Lots of cafés and restaurants are open for people to enjoy a snack!

Merry Christmas (and in Vietnamese) “Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh”

This Christmas season, please keep in your thoughts the U.S. service men and women serving their country who cannot make it home to celebrate with their friends and families.