In the Philippines, the Christmas season begins in September. As soon as the “ber” months begin (as in September, October, November and December), one can begin to hear Christmas carols throughout the city. Christmas decorations are visible throughout the streets and in the lobbies of many business centers.
While I’ve experienced many different cultures in my career, seeing the Filipino Christmas is unlike any other. Here at our Philippines Operational Center, our staff gets together and have bonding sessions which can include getting together at someone’s home and having a “potluck” of sorts. They put together musical performances as a team as part of the Christmas party and to celebrate the season. Gift exchanges are less common in the Philippines as economically it is not feasible. They prepare handmade cards and gifts, which I truly enjoy as it is very personalized.
My absolute favorite experience during the ber months is the feeling of the Christmas season early on and the importance of paying forward and helping those less fortunate.
I am looking forward to December 16th, when “misa de gallo” or nine early morning masses begins. It is the belief that if completed, they will be granted one wish. This will be my first year experiencing this and I anxiously anticipate for my wish to be granted. Of course the “noche buena” feast and presents at midnight after the last mass is much anticipated!
While the way I celebrate Christmas might be different than when I was back in the states, the feeling of joy, peace and gratitude is ever present and familiar. The importance of family and spending time with loved ones is the same here as back at home and I share the feeling of its importance.
I’m so thankful to be a part of the Christmas season here in Manila. For most of the people in the Philippines, the Christmas season is the most anticipated feast of the year and celebrated accordingly. Family is very important to Filipinos and this is a time to spend with their loved ones. The staff has truly become my family and I, too, enjoy spending as much time as possible with them during the Christmas holiday!
Go ahead and share in the comments… What are your favorite traditions and events to celebrate the season?