Christmas is a yearly celebration in different countries worldwide. The manner of celebrations differs from one country to another. The differences maybe lies on the country's tradition and beliefs handed from generations to generations.
Christmas is one of the most awaited event or occasion that is being observed and celebrated all over the world , by people in all walks of life, regardless of status or conditions in life .
We have Christmas because we believe Christ was born in this earth. Christ is the promised Saviour of the sinful and lost mankind. His birth brought joy, hope and glad tidings. No one really knows the exact time and date of Christ's birth, but the fact that Christ was born and the purpose why He was born is the most important thing that matters.
Philippines is my country, and it is considered a Christian country, because we believe Jesus Christ as God, and all His teachings. I will be sharing how Christmas is being celebrated and is being observed, as far as I know, observed in my fellow citizens, and experienced with loved ones and family. Here it is how to begin with:
FIRSTLY , the CHRISTMAS & AWARENESS & CONSCIOUSNESS begin when BER months appears in the calendar.
SECONDLY, it has to do with the coldness in the atmosphere. In the past, when coldness of the air is felt, which actually begins during BER months, the first thing that comes to one's mind is Christmas is near. But nowadays that we are experiencing a climate change, the coldness of the atmosphere during this BER months is not obviously felt.
THIRDLY, it is usually during BER months that some people begin the countdown of the days before Christmas. Since Christmas is celebrated Dec. 25 it was their basis of counting down.
FOURTHLY, it is highly encouraged when malls and business establishments begin decorating the place with Christmas paraphernalias and begin selling them as well.
CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS EVERYWHERE
At home, preparations for Christmas were done as early as the month of October to some, to others by second week of November, and the latest, first week of December.
Christmas paraphernalias kept after the previous Christmas were brought out from cabinets, to get ready for its display. The Christmas tree and it's decorations, the Christmas lanterns and lights are all set. If nothing are left because it has been destroyed because of constant used yearly it was being replaced with new ones by buying from malls or other business establishments where they are available. From simple to extravagant decorations, every home is adorned with it, depending upon the family could afford.
Parks, business establishments and public establishments like schools, churches , Barangay halls as well as main roads of the cities were all initially decorated with Christmas lights and lanterns . It usually starts at BER months and fully decorated by first week of December.
Christmas parties are done yearly without fail. It is done with much fun , merrying, and giving of gifts. Doing such kind of activities is manifesting the very spirit of Christmas which is joy in giving and fellowshipping or getting together for fun & merrying with people beside our relatives and families.
Before schools will be closed on or before December 16 advance celebrations of Christmas were being done, they are having Christmas parties. They have activities like exchanging gifts, games, raffles, dancing/singing contests and pot lucks.
Some churches celebrated Christmas by having Christmas Cantata, in which choir sings Christmas songs after preaching of God's word were done. They took the opportunity to invite visitors for them to hear the preachings of the gospel of salvation. Other activites in other days before Dec. 25, they have fellowship like exchanging gifts, pot luck, games and contests for fun and merrying .
IN BUSINESS & PUBLIC ESTABLISHMENTS, GOVT. OFFICES LOCAL AND NATIONAL, BARANGAYS
In such work places, they also have activities like exchanging gifts, pot luck , games , contests and raffles in their Christmas parties.
Philippines is a Catholic country. History tells how under the Spaniards for more than 300 years had handed down their religious beliefs of Christianity. And it was the very reason why majority of tFilipinos are Catholics. But with Americans, coming to the country, and the country under their regime , presented the gospel of Jesus Christ, which converted the minority of its citizen. The following are Catholic's traditional practices of Christmas.
A mass is held many days before the celebration of Christmas day, Dec. 25. The mass is called "simbang gabi" in Filipino or "miss de gallo" in Spanish. This mass begins very early 3 am to 4 am in the morning starting Dec. 16 to Dec. 24.
Rice cakes which we called "bibingka" in our native tongue is being sold outside the premises of the church bldg. This is a rice cake cooked in coals with toppings of salted eggs or cheese eaten weith young grated coconut and hot tea. The other one is called "puto bumbong" made up of purple glutinous rice cooked in steam.It is being served polished with butter or margarine , with young grated coconut and hot tea. These rice cakes were special in the sense that it was only made and sold during Christmas season in our province during simbang gabi from Dec. 16-24 only.
At the start of simbang gabi Dec. 16 is the start of carolling too. It is done during early evening as the day grows dark. Children with their self made musical instruments like tambol , etc . , go from house to house singing different Christmas songs expecting gifts from people to whom they sung songs. Gifts given to them varies from money, candies, chocolates, bread anything available to give. The carolling ends Dec. 24 too.
Plans for gifts and to whom it is to be given is a preparation made in advance as 13th month pay or bonuses be given in advance from where a person works. It is usually the means used to buy gifts in kind or money itself to give to someone especially the kids who are looking forward to it with full excitement and expectations. If you are a "Ninong or Ninang" of some kids it is expected from you to have prepared something to give the kids. For surely the kids with their mothers will visit you on or before the Christmas day.
In the 24th day of Dec. in every houses of families, you will find everyone is busy preparing food for feasting on the very Eve , 12 midnight , the parting time of Dec. 24 to begin the very day of Christmas. This is the Christmas Eve celebration were all family members are awake waiting for the Christmas Eve , gathered together for feasting and greetings each one a Merry Christmas with hugs and kisses and giving gifts for everyone.
The Outfit of the Day
Anyone may differ in style of dress or color to wear during Christmas day but you will notice that all are brand new. The parents of each family see to it that everyone in the family has a brand new clothes or else Christmas celebration is not complete. For kids it is something, it really matters to them, besides the gifts they are to receive.The very day of Christmas, the most awaited day to come. You can see kids in their all new outfits ready to mingle to everyone to greet a MERRY CHRISTMAS. That is the key word or the password so to say to receive gifts to someone to whom you greet. If you have nothing to give a return back greetings of MERRY CHRISTMAS will be your response. Besides the greetings, kids or young adults grasp the hands of older people and put it in their forehead as a sign of greetings and respect. For now, I think this could be possible to do for we are still in the pandemic situation.
Christmas Day can be said to be a Reunion Day, because families and relatives have time to see each other on this very day.This was made possible because of a Christmas vacation in workplaces. A happy scenario can be seen in homes.There were feasting , everyhome has food to serve and to share and to enjoy and be satisfied with.
One of the highlights of this Christmas day is the food for feasting. The foods prepared are the specialties of the family.The variety of dishes are special, they are not usually the foods eaten everyday. They are foods eaten on special occasions.
There are yet many days left before Christmas Day. I don't know how will the Christmas Day celebration will.turn out to be during the pandemic situation.
But one thing is sure, Christmas Day celebration will not fail. There could be minimal change or difference in the way we used to celebrate it, but then the joy of the spirit it brings remains in our hearts and minds.
The true essence of Christmas is not in the celebration but in the Celebrant, the One gift of God to mankind, the Lord Jesus Christ , the Saviour of the lost ,sinful mankind, that's me and you.
John 3:16 - For God so Loved the world (you and me) that He gave His Only Begotten Son (Jesus Christ) that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Lastly , I would like to share to you my accrostics I composed which would be my greetings to you all this Christmas 2021