Paskong Pilipino: The Longest Christmas Season in the World

house with christmas lights

It’s safe to say that almost everyone agrees that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. What’s not to like?

People are warmer and friendlier than usual. They are more forgiving and giving. You see different places decorated in festive holiday ornaments and decors. Happy tunes are piping in from sound systems in public places. The weather is pleasant. It is a fantastic time for almost everyone.

And while different countries celebrate the holidays in their own way, one country in the Far East seems to be having a lot more fun than the rest of the world because, for them, Christmas starts on the very first day of September and doesn’t end until early February.

We’re talking about none other than the beautiful archipelago in the Orient, the Philippine Islands.

Their natural love for celebrations and festivals.

Filipinos are genuinely happy people. They are some of the warmest and friendliest people on the planet. They smile and laugh even in the midst of adversity and tragedy. And they love celebrating occasions and fiestas.

And being Asia’s only Christian nation, with more than 86% of the population as Roman Catholics, the Philippines reveres Christmas as one of its primary festivals of the year. And just like its other festivals in honor of the different Catholic saints, Christmas celebrations for a lot of Filipinos are an expression of their gratitude.

This only adds to their warm and friendly nature as a people. If you’re a tourist and you visit the Philippines anytime between the first day of September and well after New Year’s Day, you will see Filipinos at their absolute best.

They take ownership of the occasion.

Filipinos love to celebrate. They’re the type of people who will look for things to celebrate. A job promotion, boyfriend-girlfriend monthsaries (as opposed to anniversary), baptisms, housewarming, despedida (farewell party), welcome-home parties, family reunions, and a lot of other things. So given the fact that Christmas is one of its major fiestas, they go all out with the celebration.

Religious traditions and beliefs play a huge role in the way they celebrate Christmas. More than just families gathering over a table filled with sumptuous food like lechon de leche (roast pig), kare-kare with Barrio Fiesta bagoong (shrimp paste), Filipino-style spaghetti (which is a lot sweeter than most folks are used to), quezo de bola, and ham, the different cultural, religious, and familial customs are emphasized.

A lack of festivities and celebrations during the last third of the year.

Again, with the emphasis on Filipinos loving their festivals, the last third of the year doesn’t have many holidays on their national calendar. There’s one on November 30 in honor of fallen revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio and All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on November 1 and 2 respectively. Other than that there’s some sort of drought during the final stretch of the year.

Since Filipinos don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving and Halloween (they only recently adopted the practice because of malls and restaurants holding costume contests and trick-or-treats), Filipinos decided to start their Christmas celebrations on the first day of the Ber months (months ending in -ber).

christmas wreath on door

Filipinos are ready to spend hard-earned money on festivities.

A lot of people don’t really buy into the commercialism that now goes hand-in-hand with the season but Filipinos are more than willing to spend their money on festivities, especially Christmas.

If you go to one of the country’s cities or towns on their fiesta or foundation day, you will be surprised at how open their homes are and how accommodating the people are. They offer food to strangers and out-of-towners and invite them into their homes to eat and drink with them. They splurge during their fiestas, and they are willing to spend all their holiday pay and year-end bonus on Christmas gifts and food. Even if a lot of them aren’t financially well-off, they are really generous, especially at this time.

Festivals for them are meant to be enjoyed and not a time to worry about money. They believe it will come back to them one way or another.

Generosity and gift-giving.

Since we’re already talking about money, as mentioned above, most Filipinos don’t think of the monetary equivalent of any festival they celebrate. This doesn’t mean that they recklessly and irresponsibly spend their money, but it just means that they are willing to spend because they believe it is worth it.

Christmas is one of those very few occasions where people give and receive gifts. Even if it is not asked of them, Filipinos will always do their best to give if not gifts then tokens to people to show their appreciation. Thus, during the Christmas season, people tend to be more generous and forgiving because, hey, it’s Christmas anyway.

The season is a reminder for them, as a Christian nation, of what Jesus Christ’s life is all about — a life that was so generously given up and sacrificed for the forgiveness and atonement of their sins. That is what spurs them on to give even if it hurts. That is what leads them to celebrate with gladness of heart.

Just like the Filipinos, however, you decide to celebrate the holidays, make sure to always treasure your families and your values above all. Have a safe holiday celebration. Maligayang Pasko!

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