As of this writing, our town has already lit it’s gigantic Christmas tree at the Boulevard and the main street of the city has been decorated with lights and traditional Christmas stars locally called as “Parol” — the icon of Philippine Christmas.
Most Filipinos celebrate Christmas in a great way. The beginning of ‘ber’ months, which is September, marks the countdown for Christmas along with bringing the decors up as well. Yes! Christmas decors often come up as early as September!
Christmas tree, lights, Santa Claus are also used here for Christmas celebration, but the traditional icon for Christmas is our Star! Based on the star that shone so brightly on the night that Jesus was born in a manger with Mary and Joseph, the star was told to have shed light to the spot where the Savior was to be born, leading the three wise men who traveled from afar just to witness and meet this born child Jesus Christ.
Christmas season in the Philippines is normally the time when companies will hold parties (Christmas parties) often done with prizes, bonuses or gifts are given to the employees. In many places in the country, Christmas Eve or the day itself would often become a huge family gathering or reunion in many places where people share a Christmas kind of party with the Philippine favorite “Karaoke”.
I like Christmas, not only because it is meant to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus, but also it is normally during these times that I sense a great feeling of love in the atmosphere. Where people are kind or nice to each other, people giving to one another, and people are generally happier. I don’t know if it is really the case but that is how I normally feel around Christmas season and I like it.
There are many other celebrations in the country that are observed culturally, popularly, or both and I have listed them down below:
Culture and Popular: New Year
Having the new President on the office slightly changes the way we normally celebrate our New Year — loud and smoky from all the firecrackers.
Chinese New Year
Many Filipinos have Chinese family background from the olden days of trading and so the celebration became very big around the country. It is usually celebrated with — again, very loud firecrackers, traditional Chinese dragon dance and wearing of anything colored red. It is celebrated during the month of February.
Culturally: Holy Week
Being a country dominated by Roman Catholicism thus the celebration of holy week. It normally falls in the hot months of March or April. Unlike the above celebration, this is normally a quiet one, which one Christian sister describes as ‘oppressively quiet’. Many people from the Roman Catholic church believes that these times should be used to not only remember Jesus’ suffering on the Cross but also for the people to make some sort of sacrifices to share with His sufferings. Such ‘sufferings’ include slashing wounds at the back of your body and beating it up with a rope that has sharply broken glasses on the tip making it very bloody while the same person is walking in a procession. Some devout Roman Catholic church members would even go as far as having their hands and feet crucified! It has now become a big tourist attraction in the northern part of the country. Thankfully we, as children of God do not need to do all these things for Christ said on that cursed tree while being hung: “IT IS FINISHED”.
Very Popular: Beauty Pageants
This is almost an obsession for Filipinos as they look forward or support these events. Being a Spanish colony in the olden days, Philippines had adapted this fascination on parades of ‘chosen’ beauties from every village making their way on processions normally supported by the Roman Catholic Church. Nowadays, Filipinos compete in the international pageants which will instantly make the lady a very popular and endeared celebrity. Making it in these pageants successfully is seen as a form of success which for the ladies would mean a ticket out of poverty for her and her family.
A major street can be closed in many places here in the country to be used as a place to set up a huge screen so the masses can watch a Filipino boxer compete in the international scene. As what is normally the case when the current and legend and Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has a fight.
and there is… Basketball
This particular team called Ginebra is a very well loved by Filipinos whether they win or lose. This team became popular not only for not winning major titles but despite that showing a “never say die” character that has caught the hearts of many Filipinos then and up to this day.