THERE is nothing better than experiencing Christmas in the Philippines.
In other countries, Christmas is just a time of snow and Christmas tree, but for the Filipinos, Christmas is more than that, it is a tradition.
Christmas countdown starts in the first day of September when you can see lanterns and lights on the streets, you can hear Christmas songs everywhere, and of course, family members from other countries going home to spend the holiday season with their loved ones.
What makes Christmas unique among Filipinos?
Bamboo sticks are ordinary, not until you put colorful cellophanes on it and become a parol, a Filipino term for lantern. Most of it is star-shaped which symbolizes the star in the Bible story of the Three Kings. The star guided them and went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child Jesus was.
Almost every family either buys or makes it and hangs it by the window or door for guidance and to feel the essence of Christmas in the house.
Christmas is a time of giving, and exchanging of gifts is one of the most awaited parts of it.
"Ber" months are the time of sales. It is the time of the year when people start to buy gifts for their family, officemates, friends, and their monito and monita.
For children, Christmas is fun because of aguinaldo. These are gifts from their godparents or in Filipino term, ninong and ninang.
As a Catholic country, Philippines is known because of "Simbang Gabi". Simbang gabi is where you attend mass for the nine mornings leading to Christmas day. Some Filipinos believe that if you attended all of the masses, you can make a wish and it will come true.
Some are attending the mass with their friends, but mostly with their families.
Because mornings are chilly, after the mass, you can see everyone eating "kakanin," a native delicacy of Filipinos. Vendors sell "puto bumbong", "biko" or rice cake and more.
Other churches also offer coffee for free.
Christmas won't be complete without food.
In the midnight of December 25 after the mass, families rush to their home and eat together. This tradition is called noche buena, a Christmas Eve feast. It is very important for the Filipinos. It is not only about food, but the bonding of the family.
Christmas is about giving, loving, and sharing, and Pinoys' uniqueness of celebrating it cannot be compared with others. (Maura Mae Vigilia)
Sunday Essays are articles written by students of Ateneo de Davao for their journalism subject.