Covid dampens Christmas atmosphere across Vietnam

 Churches and Christian-inhabited alleys across large cities are festooned with sparkling lights though this year in a more solemn fashion due to the worsening Covid situation.

The facade of St. Joseph's Cathedral, a popular tourist attraction in Hanoi, is lit up with colorful lights and decorated with a Christmas tree and nativity scene. The cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hanoi for the nearly four million Catholics is still under construction.

Police officers frequently patrol the area to remind people to comply with pandemic prevention measures as Hanoi has in recent days led in the number of daily new cases in the country.

A nativity scene, representing the meaning behind the birth of Christ, is put up in front of the cathedral for people to admire and take photos.

This year, Christmas decorations in parishioner houses is not as extravagant as in previous years. On main streets, only a few houses feature decorated Christmas miniatures.

Hanoi authorities earlier urged people to limit large gatherings during the Christmas holiday to ensure pandemic prevention measures.

The Christmas spirit in front of a hotel on Ly Thuong Kiet Street in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District.

A group of youngsters pose for a photo on Hang Ma Street, which specializes in decorative Christmas items.

Phu Cam, the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Hue, have completed Christmas decorations, mainly using the same lighting system as in previous years.

This year, most churches in Hue have cut down on decorations for the Christmas holiday to save money amid the worsening pandemic situation.

Thua Thien-Hue Province, home to popular tourist town Hue, has seen a surge in new daily infections over the past days.

A simple decoration in front of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hue on Phan Dinh Phung Street

On the evening of Dec. 22, two days before Christmas Eve, parishioners flock to Tam Ha Church in HCMC's Thu Duc City. In front of the main courtyard and entrance to the cathedral is a large Christmas cave and pine tree nearly 10 meters high. 

Decorations for the Christmas season have been prepared since early December.

Huan, 57, carries his grandson to visit the church at night.

"Tam Ha is one of the major parishes of Thu Duc. Every year, the church and surrounding streets and alleys are decorated beautifully and the atmosphere is really bustling while this year, everything is much quieter," he said.

Seventeen kilometers away, an alley on Dat Thanh Street in Tan Binh District, home to one of the city's largest Christian communities, is decorated with shimmering lights. Parishioners in the area strung up lights and erected decorative miniatures of caves and Santa Claus around half a month ago

Khang, a 4-year-old boy in HCMC, dresses up like a Santa Claus.

Vietnam is home to 5.86 million Christians, according to official data. For the Christian community, the Christmas holiday always involves church services, family unions and large parties.

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