The “Ber” months have officially started, which means one thing in the Philippines. We are about to start the longest Christmas season in the world.
1st of September
Filipinos tend to start the Christmas countdown when the calendar strikes the 1st of September. And I am lucky this year to be in the Philippines at this time Christmas is one of the most celebrated holidays in the Philippines. As early as September, Filipinos put up Christmas trees and decorate their houses with Christmas themes.
By this time you can listen to Christmas playlist in everyone’s houses. Clearly remember a staple song in everyone’s household is “Christmas In Our Hearts” by Jose Mari Chan. He has been a well-known icon during the festive season.
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School and office programs
In schools, We tend to have exchange gifts weekly prior to Christmas day. We call it monito-monita. Wherein, we will pick a random name in a fishbowl and will give a small gift. Before we have our Christmas break, we have our Christmas party in school. There will be a program and a major exchange gift, and of course a buffet.
While in the corporate world it is a different thing. During this period employees tend to receive Christmas bonuses and thirteenth-month pay. Never-ending parties and exchanging gifts is still a major thing. Malls in the Philippines are jam-packed with people having their Christmas shopping. And when I say jam-packed, it is literally crowded so aside from money, carry a ton of patience.
Filipinos attend the evening mass too, or dawn mass. We call it “Simbang Gabi” or “ Misa de Gallo” Christmas day itself was a joyous holiday. The celebration starts the evening before Christmas day. Families gather and have dinner on 24th December night, we call this “Noche Buena”. You can find cheese, wine, roasted pig on almost everyone’s table.
Most Filipinos have their Karaoke too to liven up the festivity. On the day itself, we made sure that we attend Christmas mass in order to give thanks to the creator.
If you think Christmas ends on the 25th, in the Philippines, it is a no. We extend our celebration until January. Wherein, we have the new year’s holiday. Same as Christmas, we have exchange gifts, parties and programs and New year’s Eve dinner that we called “Media Noche”.
Christmas decorations are still up until the feast of the three kings. Sometimes, they are up until the celebration of the Chinese New year. Indeed, Filipinos definitely have the longest Christmas season in the world.
However, this year is a bit different. For an obvious reason, the global pandemic of Covid-19 that continues to harm our health and economy. Many lost their job. Businesses closed and economies went into recession. This may be a tough time for all of us, but Filipinos are known for their resilience.
May this pandemic be a reason to be stronger and have a deeper faith in the Almighty Being. At the end of the day, Christmas is a symbol of hope. A reminder that a Savior in the name of Jesus Christ was born to give us light and be redeemed.
How about you? How do you celebrate Christmas in your country? Please let me know down.