Christmas in Saigon — California


The Asian Garden Mall ( in Little Saigon, Westminster, Calif., celebrates Christmas with green & red balloons, and pots of festive poinsettias.

Unique gifts you can buy at the mall include Vietnamese pop music CDs, rice cookers, silks, clothing in small sizes, Buddha statues and jade or gold jewelry. And of course, the mall restaurants sell a variety of pho and that sweet, rich Thai coffee or tea. In January the mall hosts a Tet Flower Festival where vendors set up tents outside the mall and sell potted plants that are part of the Tet Festival and Chinese New Year celebrations. During that season, you may occasionally see a monk on the grounds of the mall, posed in silent meditation. 

For those looking for unique, hard-to-find items, California’s largest cities (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco) have Italian shops, British stores, Chinese markets, Japanese grocers, German delis, and in L.A. there’s an Indian shopping district for people missing the creature comforts of India. While not every culture celebrates Christianity or the religious aspects of Christmas, nearly all set up holiday displays such as lights, decorated trees or balloons, and most close their stores on December 25 each year for a day of rest or vacation.

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