Merry Christmas, Vietnamese Style!

What do you get when Protestants, Catholics, and Buddhists come together for a holiday? Christmas Vietnamese style!

I’m sure you and I have many similarities when it comes to Christmas traditions. But I’d venture to say that there are a few differences too.

Christmas is one of the four main festivities in the Vietnamese year. Even though Buddhism is the country’s dominate religion, the Christian celebration is embraced with great enthusiasm in almost all religious communities.

The Christmas supper is the most important meal in the Vietnamese celebration. Many devout Christians will attend Christmas Eve mass and return home for their Christmas supper. The menu usually consists of chicken soup. Some will enjoy turkey and Christmas pudding.

My family moved to America when I was four years old. Although we brought with us many traditions from Vietnam, some formed over time from being in America. Christmas Eve is the big day for my family. We gather for a large feast, open gifts, and enjoy being together. Along with the turkey and stuffing, chances are, you’d see a few dishes with a more exotic or tropical twist.

In Vietnam, many children believe in Santa Claus. They put their shoes in front of their doors on Christmas Eve and wake up Christmas morning with their boots filled with treats and presents under the tree. I never really thought about it until now, but in our home, there was no Santa Claus. I’m not sure exactly why, but the idea of gifts being delivered by a guy in a red suit to be opened on Christmas morning never was incorporated into our family traditions.

We all develop our own traditions within our household influenced by our culture, religion, and personal preferences. I’d love to hear what some of your favorite Christmas traditions are. Feel free to respond to this email and share.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas season, and may you be blessed with good health, prosperity, and happiness in the new year.

Here’s a treat for you from us:

  • 1 lb grated cassava (yuca root)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup mashed mung bean
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • Serves 4 – 6
  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Drain grated cassava into a colander, allow to sit for 15-30 minutes. Drain again.
  • In a large bowl, add all ingredients except for grated coconut. Mix until there’s no lumps.
  • Coat a 9-inch round pan evenly with canola oil.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and evenly spread batter.
  • Evenly sprinkle grated coconut on top of batter.
  • Bake for 45–50 minutes. Cake is done when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 1 hour.
  • Cut into squares and serve!