“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” as one song goes. Yes, what else are we talking about? Of course, it’s Christmas! To say that Filipinos love this season is an understatement. In fact, the Philippines celebrates the world’s longest Christmas season. As early as September, you will hear Christmas songs on the radio and see holiday decorations in August. Insane, right? It extends to New Year and ends in the third or fourth week of January. That’s how obsessed we are with this holiday.
During this season, Filipinos attend Christmas parties left and right: at school, university, workplace and of course, at home! We play lots of games, eat traditional Christmas food, watch colourful fireworks. The list goes on. We also carefully choose the presents we give that’s why businesses take this opportunity to go on sale and offer as much to the shoppers. A real treat indeed! Meanwhile, children visit their godparents with hopes of being showered with presents.
While all these may sound crazy, Filipinos never forget the essence of Christmas, which is the celebration of the birth of Christ and the opportunity to celebrate it with our family. Being a predominantly Catholic nation, we observe what we call “Simbang Gabi”, a religious tradition where we attend a mass at church for nine days in anticipation of Christmas. We can go there as early as 3 a. m. to hear the mass. On Christmas Day itself, family members gather and say their well wishes to each other.
Indeed, Christmas and to a certain extent, New Year, are two of the biggest and most important holidays in the Philippines. However, at the core of it all, is our devotion to Christ and our love for our family. These, among other things, are the ones we truly treasure in our country.
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