After writing about our family’s favorite Christmas albums, I started thinking about Vietnamese Christmas carols. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to Vietnamese Christmas music. There’s plenty of Viet language versions of “Silent Night” and other more familiar western carols. So I dug around for some of the original nhạc giáng sinh (Christmas music).
Most of these are from Paris by Night, a variety type show originally produced in Paris (where many Vietnamese immigrated to during/after the civil war). Now it’s produced in Orange County, CA, which the largest concentration of Vietnamese Americans reside. Those who grew up in Vietnamese homes will have a love-hate relationship with the Paris by Night videos. They were constantly playing at my aunt’s home. While the shows had very high production values (look at those costumes!), the musical mash-ups and attempts at rapping made me feel embarrassed for my people. Typical teenager, I was.
Vietnamese rap, you ask? Yes. Did I mention that Vietnamese male singers are very
metrosexual stylish? Here’s a medley of Vietnamese music, including a rap number of Jingle Bells (starting at 3:27)
The new ones are not as cringe worthy as the ones from my childhood. But the older ones were clearly trying to emulate those 1990s MTV music video. Here’s one of my favorite childhood Vietnamese Christmas carols, Hang Bê Lem (Manger in Bethlehem). Skip to the minute mark:
Did I scare you? Or do you want more? I created a Vietnamese Christmas music playlist on YouTube for your viewing and aural pleasure.
I had to share this one with you. It’s not a Christmas video, but these were the types of Paris by Night numbers I was forced to watch as a teen:
Does your culture have its own holiday music? Share a link to a video in the comments.