B: I hope so. We’re hopeful that once many countries have vaccines against the coronavirus, the year will become easier for everyone. The Christmas and New Year holiday is fast approaching and governments must make the tough decision of whether to ease coronavirus restrictions in time for the holiday.
A: This might be the reason several of our Indian listeners asked how Christmas is celebrated in Vietnam this year amid COVID-19.
|People buy Christmas decorations at a shop on Hai Thuong Lan Ong street, Ho Chi Minh city.
B: In Vietnam the pandemic is under control. Rapid contact-tracing, targeted testing, and strict quarantining have helped Vietnam contain every outbreak. Lessons learned previously have been applied quickly in later cases to keep infections from spreading.
A: With tough preventive measures and vigilance by the public, we can maintain our virus-free environment and enjoy a safe Christmas and New Year.
B: Although Vietnam is a predominantly Buddhist country, Christmas is still one of the four biggest annual religious festivals. The other three are Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Buddha’s Birthday. A 2019 survey on population and housing showed that Vietnam has 5.9 million Christians, more than 6% of the population.
| Christmas decorations at a residential area.
A: Christmas in Vietnam is a huge event and Christmas Eve, which is more boisterous than Christmas Day in Vietnam, is a grand party when the fun-loving and sociable Vietnamese, whether Christian or not, celebrate with gusto.
B: Christmas trees, Santa Claus in an open sleigh and reindeer are displayed in hotels, shopping malls, and some residential areas, and there are sparkling lights decorating trees on the street.
A: Decorated at churches are particularly beautiful, with a nativity scene with life-sized statues of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds, and animals. The areas in front of large churches like the Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City and Saint Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi, are always crowded with people taking photos of the Christmas decorations.
|People at Binh An parish in district 8, Ho Chi Minh city create a nativity scene. (Photo: Nhu Y)
B: In Hanoi people bundle up against the piercing cold. And on Christmas Eve, Vietnamese Christians, like others around the world, attend a Midnight Mass and then return home to enjoy a Christmas dinner.
A: Non-Christians also go out to enjoy the festive atmosphere in public places. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Vietnam welcomed millions of tourists during the Christmas and New Year holiday. The streets of the big cities – Hanoi, Danang, and Ho Chi Minh City – were packed with Vietnamese and foreign celebrants. This year public events will surely be less crowded than usual.
|People celebrate Christmas 2019 in front of Saint Joseph Cathedral in Hanoi without fear of the coronavirus. (Photo: kenh14)
B: Children in Vietnam believe in Santa Claus and get excited to receive some gifts from him. They hang their stockings on Christmas Eve, hoping to find some goodies from Santa there the next morning.
A: Christmas is not an official holiday in Vietnam. Adults stilt go to work and children go to school normally on Christmas Day. We only get one day off for the solar New Year.
B: Shivendul Paul of India’s Metali Listners’ Club regularly listens to VOV’s English Program. He told us that reception on 7220khz at 16UTC is always good in Murshidabad, West Bengal, India.
B: Shivendul said the Voice of Vietnam is not just a radio station, but a window on Vietnam on multiple platforms – shortwave, website, print, podcast, and social media networks.
A: He said: “In this pandemic period, many radio stations have reduced their programming or stopped broadcasting their foreign language programs. Vietnam has been successful in containing the COVID-19 epidemic while at the same time hosting ASEAN events as Chair of ASEAN for 2020. VOV broadcasts domestic services and world service programs in 13 languages. VOV organized a contest for worldwide listeners called “What do you know about Vietnam?” and conducted a listener’s survey to improve their programs. I am very proud of VOV.”
B: Thank you very much, Shivendul, for your support. Working during a pandemic is a real challenge for everybody, including reporters. We have had to reorganize our production for health safety. We work on multiple platforms to reach a wider audience.
A: Mouad Belgrid of Morocco emailed us to say that he follows VOV’s Facebook page. He asked us why he has not received a QSL from VOV for a while.
B: Since the middle of this year, due to travel restrictions, VOV stopped sending QSLs by post. We now send e-verification cards to confirm listeners’ reception reports.
A: Kalab Abbas of Pakistan asked “What is the national game of Vietnam?”
B: There is no official national game, but football is the most popular sport in Vietnam, with the most players and fans. Other sports like swimming, cycling, table tennis, volleyball, badminton, and martial arts are also widely enjoyed.
|Many of Vietnamese famous footballers grow up from dirt fields in the countryside.
A: In rural areas, the community stadium is just a dirt field where the villagers play football. The field may be any size and the goals might be made from a few bamboo trees.
B: Football teams are organized at every school from primary to tertiary level, as well as at government agencies and private companies. There are football tournaments for amateur players sponsored by schools, agencies, sectors, and localities.
|Vietnamese men's football team at the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
A: Professional football in Vietnam is run by the Vietnam Football Federation, which administers the Vietnamese national men’s and women’s team and is responsible for administering the national football leagues, including the V.League 1, which is the top tier of professional football in Vietnam.
B: The Vietnamese are very passionate about their men’s football team, especially after some great success in recent years. The Vietnamese men’s football team won 2nd place at the U23 AFC championship in 2018, 4th place at the 2018 Asian Games, a 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup victory, and a Quarterfinal finish at the 2019 Asian Cup.
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A: This year the Vietnamese national team stands 93rd in the FIFA rankings. This puts Vietnam in the top 15 Asian teams and is Vietnam’s highest ranking in 20 years. Vietnam leads Southeast Asia, followed by Thailand who is 111th.
B: This week we acknowledge reception reports from Saleem Akhtar Chadhar of Pakistan, Siddhartha Bhattacharjee of India, Adora Athoy and Anika Anne of Bangladesh, Richard Cook of England, and Mohamed Elsayed Abd Elraheim of Egypt.
A: We always welcome your feedback at: English Service, VOVworld, the Voice of Vietnam, 45 Ba Trieu street, Hanoi, Vietnam. Or you can email us at: email@example.com. You’re invited to visit us online at vovworld.vn, where you can hear both live and recorded programs.
B: Check out our VOV Media App, available on both the IOS and Android platform, to hear our live broadcasts. We look forward to your feedback on the mobile version of vovworld.vn. Once again, thank you all for listening.
Goodbye until next time.