It’s my second Christmas here in the Philippines after nine years of working as an expat from Dubai. Obviously, there is no holiday celebration from any Middle East County, as far as I know, some Christian employees still tend to work on Christmas day, lucky for those who can excuse themselves from their employers and have a considerate co-worker to change shifts is a plus.
I feel favored that I can still go home without any issues from my workplace. I cannot compare the celebration here with family and old friends, than in a place surrounded by fabulous lights and mighty buildings, but cannot see those familiar faces I long to be with.
So what it is like to celebrate Christmas in the Philippines? How do we Filipinos celebrate?
Well, I think nothing is different aside from that we welcome the spirit of Christmas from the first day of September (BER months) and does not end until the first week of January. We begin to decorate the houses, establishments, and streets with Christmas ornaments. You can even hear early Christmas songs played on the radio and in the shopping malls.
Christmas Party and gift giving are always part of the Christmas celebration. Parties are celebrated with friends, business institutions, family gathering, and reunions.
While some are familiar with the Western tradition of leaving empty socks or stockings for Santa Claus to fill up with goodies while being a good kid. Filipinos also have some customs and traditions on how we enjoy this season.
Simbang Gabi or Misa De Gallo.
One of the oldest Christmas traditions of Pinoy. It is the nine-day dawn masses that start on December 16 and end on Christmas Day. We believe that when we complete the 9 straight days of Simbang Gabi, God will grant our prayers.
I love this when I was still young. We are always excited when September comes. From our neighborhood to another street, we never get tired of visiting different houses while singing all the Christmas songs again and again just to receive a pamasko (cash gift).
One of the exciting activities at Christmas is the exchange gifts. Each participant has his/her own secret Santa who gives them gifts. This could be done in schools, homes, organizations, friends, and community.
Christmas is much celebrated everywhere in the world and it is unique among all the holidays and birthdays that we recognize. Why, because Christmas is not all about the gifts under the tree, the cash bonus we may receive from our employers, who has the best Christmas decorations, the dinner celebration, but it’s all about the season of great joy, where God shows his great love to us.
some of the pictures credited to the rightful owners