Yes, today is the first day of September, the so-called Ber-months. And you know what this means 😊 This is the time that you'll be hearing the voice of Jose Mari Chan, singing his very famous Christmas song.....Christmas in Our Hearts. And of course, Maria Carey belting out All I Want For Christmas.
Christmas is celebrated here in the Philippines the longest from any other part of the world. It usually starts on December 16 with our "simbang gabi". A Filipino tradition, when you completed attending the "simbang gabi", 9 days that is, to be exact, starting from the 16th of December and ends on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve....it is said that your wish or what you are praying for will come true or will be granted.
And then, there are the traditional foods. After attending the "simbang gabi"....church goers never missed to buy puto bumbong and bibingka. Christmas for me is not complete if you have not eaten at least once any of these two.
Puto bumbong is a native delicacy made with grounded pirurutong, a variety of rice violet in color and gets sticky when cooked. After being cooked by steaming inside small hallow bamboo called bumbong, the contents are transferred on a piece of banana leaf, spread some margarine, sprinkle some sugar and grated coconut is added on top, making it so sweet and delicious.
Bibingka is another native delicacy made from grounded sticky rice or malagkit. Mixed with sugar, milk and butter. Then the mixture is poured into a round mold lined with banana leaves, slices of cheese and salted egg is added on top of the mixture. The mold is now placed on top of stove, with charcoal as fuel, and a container with burning charcoal is also placed on top of the mold to even out the cooking process up and below. After the bibingka is cooked, grated coconut and cheese is also placed on top to enhance the taste.
As early as the first week of November, people begin to put up their Christmas trees at home. Decorating it with colorful christmas balls, bells, candy cane, Christmas lights and other things that can make the tree more festive looking. Usually Christmas trees are green, but as time goes by, other colors begin to appear. There are now blue, violet and white. People begin to put presents under the tree for their loved ones. Some put ang paos in their trees just like what we did last 2019. Some have chocolates and candies as tree decors.
Christmas lights are placed inside and outside of every home. Some have diffedent colors, others prefer only one color, some like their lights blue, some like it white. Some have blinking lights some have lights that seem to be dancing with the music playing, Christmas carols of course.
The Nativity or Belen, some of us still puts up a Belen in our homes aside from the Christmas tree. It symbolizes the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It has the baby Jesus lying in manger with Mother Mary and Joseph by his side. Surrounded with different animals looking at him and the star shining down on Him.
December 16 signals the children and even grown ups to start caroling at every home. Children are allowed to go out at night, armed with their improvised drums or tambourine, to go caroling in groups. They are given some money by the house owner or sometimes chocolates and candies. Some fo caroling for a cause, what they have collected is donated to a charity, mostly to orphanages, the money is used to buy Christmas presents for the orphans, to make them feel the Christmas spirit too.
But now that we are a situation we didn't choose to be in. There are things we can't do like we usually do before. There are restrictions, our actions are now limited.
But eventhough we are in this crisis because of the virus, we still have the Christmas spirit in us. We still find ways to make it as close as to how we celebrate it before covid 19.
I know some might say, it's a little bit to talk about Chritmas. But not for me, it has always been my most favorite time of the year. I love Christmas more than New Year's eve....even more than my own birthday. Somebody said it's some kinda childish of me to be like this, but I don't really care. I love Christmas and nothing's gonna change it.
Thank you guys for reading another piece of my wandering thought. Keep safe everyone and Merry Christmas to all 😊❤️
#lead image from unsplash