Why Do I Love Celebrating Christmas in the Philippines more than I do in the USA?
Let me step back a few years... Ok, maybe a few decades. When I was a child celebrating Christmas, there were lots of decorations & displays in the malls, lots of excitement to sit on Santa's lap and let him know what was on my wish list, and lots of Christmas shows on television. Wow, Christmas is glitzy and exciting.
As I got older, I slowly realized that the decorations & displays were there to make me want to visit the mall, that Santa was there so we would visit the mall, that the shows on TV had enticing commercials, so we would visit the mall. Wow, and if you didn't get the latest gizmo, gadget, fad-ish type item, well then you just weren't in the Christmas Spirit (guilt), a 'Scrooge', or a 'Grinch'.
Now... Let me leap forward to September 1st 2018.
Children are hanging Christmas decorations in the streets, on their homes, in the churches, in the public square. People are having sporting competitions to celebrate Christmas. People are harvesting food, buying food, and confectionaries. Do you notice any differences in the 2 cultures?
Some may need to read the 1st paragraph again.
Here are the differences that I immediately noticed in the 2 cultures. I see that the decorations are in the places where people gather and meet, the activities are to bring people together, and the shopping is so that people can share time and a meal together. Notice, nothing is about gadgets, toys, gizmos, fashion, or the latest fad. It's about something more human. Something more basic. Something that everyone can share and appreciate. It's Friendship and camaraderie.
During this season, we threw and attended numerous Christmas parties filled with parlor games for everyone - adults, children and foreign guests (this year we had 3 foreign guests from South Korea).
And the pinnacle of the Christmas season happens at mid-night on Christmas Eve. It's an event called Noche Buena. Family and friends get together to share a festive meal. Yes, I say festive because it involves laughing, singing, dancing, adult beverages, and a huge feast of food. And custom has it that after the late night meal, the gather attends mass - in memoranda of the birth of the Christ child.
On Christmas morning, my wife and I celebrated that we were together as a family, and we also shared a single gift with our daughter. After we had breakfast and fresh coffee (from Going Native Coffee Club), we - as a family - took gift bags of various candies to the homes of the less affluent areas. This is called 'Sharing the Blessings'. The smiles and gratitude from the people we met can touch one's soul and enrich the Christmas experience. It's something I will never forget, and something that I will always want to do every Christmas.
Merry Christmas from the Philippines & Happy New Year!
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Enjoy the Hilarious Adventures of my Move to the Philippines
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