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Black Friday

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Frank Merton

Christmas here in Vietnam is I think more pleasant, at least for adults, than in the States because people don't exchange gifts. Instead it's a sort of city-wide street party, with everyone out touring around and all the streets (downtown) decorated with Christmas music coming from the loudspeakers. Also the Catholics of course go to mass and the Buddhists tend to go to Temple (although of course everyone knows its not a Buddhist holiday the Buddhists celebrate anyway).

The absence of gift-giving means you don't have the commercial (bordering on crass) elements of the holiday in the States, and none of the pressure. Because it's so public, you also don't have the loneliness for those without families.

Later in the winter comes Tet (known in the West as Chinese New Year) when people really go to Temple (I don't know what the Catholics do) and give children and certain others "lucky money" (relatively small amounts in a decorated red envelope -- red in Vietnam is the color of good luck). Nothing to buy except the envelopes -- sold all over the city by street vendors -- so not commercialized.

There is to my mind here a trade-off. Not having to pick out a gift for each person avoids a lot of stress and, since this is mainly about children, the disappointment children can express when they don't get what they wanted (adults of course hide their feelings and just exchange or return it the next week). However, are gifts of money really gifts? The "lucky" part and the red envelopes camouflage the tasteless aspect of hard cash rather than something personal. Still, it also has the huge benefit of avoiding commercialization and all that that brings with it.

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Keel M.

This is weird!! People are nuts! I'd never be out in a store now.



Nothing that happens on Black Friday surprises me anymore.

I remember when I was a young girl, the mall opened ONE hour earlier than normal on Black Friday. It was a big deal in our family. I'd go have Thanksgiving lunch/dinner at one grandmother's house then go home with the other and spend the night at her house so we could "get up early" and go shopping. We'd meet my mom somewhere along the way and continue shopping and eating lunch out. It was crowded, but pleasant. Now it's like a free for all. Pathetic, really.

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