Merry Christmas in Lao sounds like an oxymoron. Only 2% of the Lao population is Christian. And even then, the population of Laos is small at only a 7.2million. However, as someone who has been in the region over Christmas, the people have fully embraced the holiday(perhaps more the gift-giving element rather than the religious undertones). So let's keep this simple. 'Merry Christmas' in Lao is suksanvan khris mad or ສຸກສັນວັນຄຣິສມາດ.
Note: An oxymoron is two terms at odds with each other like opposite ends of a magnet. They are often nonsensical, like 'he was a religious atheist' or 'he answered definitely maybe.'
Perhaps you're traveling to Southeast Asia and spending a month in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. You can switch up your languages and learn Lao, learn Thai, Learn Vietnamese, and learn Thai. There is also the option to learn Tagalog(if you go to the Philippines) and learn Mandarin(if you make your way North to China).
|Merry Christmas||suksanvan khris mad||ສຸກສັນວັນຄຣິສມາດ|
|Happy new year||sa bai di pi haim||ສະບາຍດີປີໃຫມ່|
|Wish you to be healthy||khor hai suk kha phab khaeng haeng||ຂໍໃຫ້ທ່ານມີສຸຂະພາບ|
|Wish you to be rich||khor hai louay||ຂໍໃຫ້ທ່ານຈະອຸດົມສົມບູນ|
As we mentioned in our intro, Christianity makes up a small portion of the Lao citizenry. Some sources cite 2%. However, others list the number at 150,000, putting it at 5%. The three main churches in Lao are the Evangelical church, the Seventh-day Adventists, and The Roman Catholics. However, the shadow of communism looms large(historically, communism has been very suspicious of any religion). The government still monitors Christian groups.
There are 400 meetings of protestants in Laos. A famous gathering is on Haiphong Road in Vientiane. There's an interesting distinction between different ethnic groups in Laos. Groups like the Mon-Khmer, Khmu, Brou, Hmong, and Yao that aren't so associated with the state are more likely to be of a divergent religion such as Protestant Christianity. This difference between the official state-sponsored atheism and ethnic Christianity speaks to simmering ethnic tensions in Laos. Incidentally, the government only acknowledges two groups, The LEC and Seventh Day Adventists.
If you know Lao history, you'll also know that it's a former French colony. And if you know anything about French religion, it's that the Catholics dominated it.
A similar story plays out in the Catholic community and the Protestant community. Estimates are that there are 45000 Catholics in Laos, making it a lower percentage than the Protestant population. Interestingly, many Catholics in Laos are ethnic Vietnamese(Vietnam is also a former French colony). Generally speaking, Catholicism is slightly more accepted than Protestantism.
This is a tricky question to answer. In general: no (unless you're Buddhist).
Acceptance of Protestantism appears to be on the decline, whereas Catholicism is more accepted (although still not legitimate). Buddhism is more accepted than Catholicism because of the sheer number of Buddhists. Most ethnic Lao and even government officials classify themselves as Theravada Buddhists.
According to the rewritten 1991 constitution of Laos, there is freedom of religion. However, many would argue that it is just words rather than action. In particular, proselytizing in protestant groups is a big problem. People who are arrested are often detained for long periods without trial.
No. The Lao government only recognizes two holidays, the That Luang festival (Buddhist lent ending) and Buddhist New Year.
So there we have it. Santa Claus visits Laos! If only for a small percent of the population. That being said, even Buddhist community members might celebrate Christmas; after all, everybody loves receiving gifts.
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