Khanh Van & Phuong Mai
|Youth buy decorations for Christmas at the Tan Dinh Church in District 1, HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Vy
Christmas is coming to town and the capital city is covered with sparkling and splendid Christmas decorations.
Streets and buildings, from shops, offices, hotels and commercial buildings are decorated with colourful LED lights and flowers ready for Christmas and New Year 2015.
Many people, particularly the young, have been flocking to bright streets as well as shopping centres to enjoy the festive atmosphere and take photos.
Ideal places to welcome Christmas in the capital city include the St Joseph's Cathedral and other churches in downtown and amusement parks and commercial centres.
Since the end of last month, Hang Ma Street in the Old Quarter has been filled with the colours of thousands of Christmas decorations and other items.
The street is known for selling paraphernalia needed to celebrate different festivals.
At shops along the 500m street, people can find items for their Christmas decorations such as pine trees, sponge snowmen, artificial snow flakes, baubles, tartan ribbons and wrapping paper.
Thong Nhat Park in Hai Ba Trung District has been hosting a Christmas trade fair and Christmas celebrations with dazzling light shows and a carnival. The event opened yesterday and will last through December 24.
The organisers have also prepared several contests, including a photo contest titled "The most impressive Noel moment".
Despite Xmas not being a tradition for most Hanoians, the festival has recently become more popular, particularly among young people.
During Christmas time, young people get together to celebrate in churches or in entertainment parks to join in recreation programmes surrounded with lots of coulorful lights, flowers and pine trees.
Nguyen Linh Chi, a girl from Ha Noi, said walking on streets at night in the run up to Christmas was great.
"I had a special feeling when I walked along sparking streets during Christmastime," she said.
"It is a great time to get together with my family and my friends. I also bought special ornaments to decorate my house for the occasion," she said.
HCM City delights
Do Thanh Thao of HCM City has been riding her motorbike from shop to shop looking for gifts for her family for Christmas.
But she has yet to decide.
"I have no idea which gift I want when I stop at the shops that are filled with season's greeting cards, and many toys and souvenirs," she said.
Thao said that her young son and daughter had asked for stuffed toys when they wrote letters to Santa Claus.
With so many stuffed items available around town, Thao said she might choose a Santa Claus, snowman, reindeer or penguin. "They are so lovely. I think my children will be surprised."
Popular gift shops such as Hanah and Chip Chip are selling stuffed toys for VND35,000-200,000 (US$1.2-19). The shops are also offering a variety of snow globes with music at prices of VND100,000-150,000 ($5-8).
The District 3-based Gia Long Fine Arts Joint Stock Company is presenting 3D paper craft kits made of high-quality materials. They come in the shapes of Santa Claus, reindeer and penguin, priced from VND22,000-38,000 ($1-1.8).
The company also introduces paper Christmas trees, which are decorated with colourful ornaments with light and can emit music. Prices are VND440,000-1.6 million ($22-78).
Lam Thuy Hong, the company's director, said: "Our products are popular among both local people and foreigners. They are not only friendly to the environment but also promote children's creativity."
Most supermarkets and shopping centres in the city have launched discounts and bonus gift programmes, as well as music and games for children.
The District 7-based SC Vivo City shopping centre is opening a five-storey "Magic Christmas Plant" featuring toys, candy and snow areas in front of the centre. Dance, magic and circus performances will be organised to entertain children during the festival.
"We want to bring happy greetings to children and people on this festive season," said a PR official for SC VivoCity.
The French-owned supermarket chain Big C is offering more than 1,000 kinds of items for Christmas, including gifts, toys and decorations with discounts of up to 49 per cent.
Thao said her family had a tradition on Christmas.
"It is a time for my family's members to gather and decorate the house."
In the past, she and many people were worried about the quality of decorative items, whose origin was often unknown. But this year, locally made items have been dominating the market.
At stores on Hai Thuong Lan Ong Street in District 5, and Ky Dong and Hai Ba Trung streets in District 3, more than 2,000 kinds of decorative items are available.
They include a wide range of ornaments, Xmas trees and soft models of Santa Claus, snowmen, and polar bears of different sizes.
Unlike previous years, Christmas trees are not only traditional colours like green or white, but are also available in blue, sapphire, red and pink.
Shopping centres around town are also decorated with huge Christmas trees and Santa Claus and his reindeer.
Pham Thi Thanh Tuyen, director of Ngan Thong Company, which produces Christmas items, said more than 85 per cent of decorative items were locally made.
Only a few products that are more difficult to make are imported from Europe and China, she added.
Prices are VND10,000-100,000 for ornaments, and VND300,000-3 million for Christmas trees. — VNS