Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Flashback: Christmas in Hoi An

We spent Christmas in Hoi An, a lovely little town in central Vietnam on the coast.

On Christmas Eve, we found our way to a Christmas service at a local Catholic church. We had no idea what we were in for.

There was some sort of pageant taking place, with hundreds, maybe thousands of people, squished into this courtyard/pavilion, spilling out into the streets. They escorted the tourists to the front rows in the middle of the show (embarrassing, but wonderfully hospitable, nonetheless). We were in the second row.

All the requisite items were there (plus some loud Vietnamese music). Cute kiddie angels, one of whom tried to grab the Virgin by the neck with her garland. The sheep who wandered out of place and had to be chased by the shepherd. The angels, Baby, the lucky couple, kings from the east, etc. It was quite a vivid piece of storytelling. We were given English programs, which was helpful.

Then came the mass. Still outside, in the rain, we took the Eucharist on the eve of Christ's birth, at least the official eve. It was a rich and wonderful experience. And, after three hours, we were quite done!

I bought a foot tall Christmas tree earlier that day, which lit our room so nicely. We listened to Christmas music, had a nice dinner, and went to bed, so we could get up and call our families on their Christmas Eve.

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