Other countries are lucky to have snow so they can enjoy a beautiful white Christmas. People pick the perfect pine trees and fill them with lights and ornaments to bring a festive cheer to their homes. Huge red stockings hang by the fireplace and a traditional mouth-watering Yule Log cake waits on the table.
Though we have none of that in the Philippines, Christmas is still the most anticipated event of the year. It could possibly be the longest and merriest in the world, starting as early as September and ending in the first week of January. Western and Filipino traditions merge together during Christmas season. Children and grown-ups sing carols from one house to another and even inside the jeepneys (public transportation). Though made of plastic and not real pine trees, homes and shopping malls boast of the most wonderful christmas trees, colorful star lanterns and all other sorts of decorations. People exchange gifts and cards at home and at work. Children believe that Santa Claus will give them what they ask for during Christmas if they behave well.
Since most of the country is Catholic, Filipinos also have a tradition of going to church at 4:00 AM for 9 consecutive days that we call Simbang Gabi (Night Mass) from the 16th of December leading up to the eve of Christmas and then families enjoy breakfast together after every mass, eating native food that you only see prepared during Christmas season. On Christmas eve, there is so much food on the table you feel like you are eating at a buffet-style restaurant. Christmas is truly a time for families to be together and celebrate.
But I had my hands full the past few weeks with a friend's wedding and a class that I haven't really had the chance to start enjoying the Christmas season. I haven't bought any presents yet so I will be doing some last minute, frantic Christmas shopping! Oh boy, I almost can't wait for all of this to be over. I am really looking forward to my long holiday vacation with nothing to think about.