Viet Nam News
By Thu Anh
HCM CITY — While many people are choosing ornaments for Christmas trees and gifts for relatives and friends, their children have only one thing in mind: Santa Claus and the gifts he will bring.
In HCM City, many supermarkets, shops, restaurants and shopping malls are offering customers free delivery of gifts from Santa during the Christmas week.
"Being Santa Claus is not easy," said Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, a second-year student at the HCM City University of Law, who delivered gifts to the homeless and children with disabilities last year.
"We face many difficulties. Traffic problems means Santa can arrive late. Adults and even children sometimes will pull our beard and hat, frightening us," he said.
Anh is one of 50 Santas working for Vietprotour this year. Like his colleagues, he spends time polishing his image.
"Father Christmas, of course, is hot in his padded felt suit, big hat and fluffy white hair," Anh said.
"We also have to the heavy burden of carrying gifts and toys while running fast around the city on Christmas Eve, visiting a dozen children living in different places," he added.
"We must to be careful because many children are smart and they can recognise our masquerade. If kids think I’m not real, Christmas will be nothing for them."
Vietprotour, a company in Gò Vấp District that offers Christmas gift delivery services, said the number of customers that asked for men made up as Santa had increased in recent years.
The company chooses mostly university students who are a bit overweight because kids expect a plump Santa.
Most companies charge VNĐ60,000 (US$2.6) toVNĐ20,000 ($5) for a visit, with the figure doubling on Christmas Eve.
Some companies offer special services for VNĐ1.5 million ($64) with 10 Santas, two fairies, and a sleigh.
This year, besides Santa services, many kinds of locally-made Christmas gifts and ornaments are available.
A Christmas tree from 90 centimetres to 1.2 metres high costs between VNĐ109,000 ($4.7) and 800,000 ($34), while trees with eye-catching decorations are priced between VNĐ1.2 million ($51) and 2 million ($85) depending on size.
“Real Christmas trees imported from the US are offered at VNĐ20 million ($900) for a big tree 3.0 metres high. Most of the trees are sold to foreign companies and agencies. Some wealthy families also contacted us to make an order,” said Bảo Trang, a shop owner who offers home and decor products in District 3.
For young people, with only a beautiful card or a small gift, they can cheer up friends and relatives.
A wide variety of locally designed cards are available at an average price of VNĐ15,000 ($0.6).
“We love window shopping while posing to share on Facebook,” said Nguyễn Thảo An, a labourer who lives in Thủ Đức District.
An said she will buy a handmade card and a CD of Christmas songs to give to her boyfriend.
Supermarkets, restaurants and hotels have announced special deals and discounts, including food and music, fashion and magic shows, for customers during the Christmas week.
Co-opmart and Co.opXtra offers more than 3,000 products at 15-46 per cent discounts.
Bakeries offer all kinds of Christmas cakes and candies starting at VNĐ120,000 ($5).
Charity organisations and individuals have also been donating medicine, gifts and toys to disadvantaged children in hospitals and shelters. — VNS