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Celebrating Christmas


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Do   you remember when you first  heard Jose Mari Chan  singing Christmas in our Hearts? Yes, it was around the start of September!

Filipinos are known  to celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world, beginning September, and for Catholics, the celebration runs until the third Sunday of January, the feast day of the Sto. Niño de Cebú. For the others, until the Chinese New Year!

For different people, religious sects, and cultures, the meaning of Christmas is a series of holidays that commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior, and the personification of Divinity.

For  believers, it is a time to reflect on the significance of Jesus’ birth, emphasizing themes of love, peace, and goodwill toward all.

These celebrations  have deep influences of  Christianity, tracing their roots back to Spanish colonial rule from 1521 to 1898.  It is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on Dec. 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.

A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it follows the season of Advent, or the Nativity Feast, which historically in the West lasts 12 days, and culminates on the twelfth night.

Christmas Day is a public holiday in many countries, celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season surrounding it.

Catholic devotees flock to attend the Simbang Gabi (Night Mass), Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass/Midnight Mass), or Misa de Aguinaldo (Gift Mass) which is a nine-day novena of dawn masses from Dec. 16 to 24, on Christmas eve.

The Simbang Gabi is practiced mainly by Catholics and Aglipayans, with some Evangelical Christians and independent Protestant churches having adopted the practice of pre-Christmas dawn services, meant to show devotion to God, and a heightened anticipation for Christ’s birth; folk beliefs hold that prayers/wishes are granted during this particular season.

Filipinos pull out all stops for the Christmas parties/feasts, especially during Noche Buena (Christmas eve feast). Rich or poor, families serve the best they can offer on the table — which means there is more special food served than usual.

According to a study published by Business Mirror, Filipinos spend 331 percent of their monthly income, an average of P37,106, during the feasts/parties for the holidays,  celebrations, making it challenging for many families to afford the basic cost of the  festivities.

Without 13th month pay, bonuses, or remittances from members of the families working overseas, celebrating the holidays would cause additional economic hardships to most families.

But as always, most Filipinos find ways, and exert all efforts to make Christmas a joyful time.

So what is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future.

Wishing you and your loved ones all the blessings and joys of Christmas, and a prosperous year ahead, filled with good cheer, healthy food, and happy memories of a wonderful year! Merry Christmas!


Author’s email: [email protected]


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