- Holidays and Celebrations»
The Best Things About Christmas
The Christmas Rush
Christmas is just around the corner. Christmas songs can be heard everywhere. People rushing for their needs, sometimes grabbing the sales. Malls in the metro are extending their mall hours to give more time for shoppers in buying their gifts and some ingredients for their noche buena. There are also stalls for clothes. accessories, apparels, fruits, etc, being put up anywhere so others dont have to rush to malls just to buy their needs. Midnight stores also started and most boutiques and online stores put up their items on sale. Well, its Christmas rush once again. Despite lack of finances or being short of cash, we still find ways to make our Christmas meaningful not only for our personal happiness but most of the time, we do it for our loved ones. It is during Christmas season that most people are at peace, not minding the traffic jams, the stress that the season also brings. Because most people do the things that makes them and their loved ones happy during Christmas. Simple things such as going out as a family, going to park or church or malls, watching the seasons big event or a great movie at the movie house, eating at their favorite restaurant or food chain and buying gifts for everyone.
Decorating for Christmas
I like it when we would start decorating our place during Christmas season. The Christmas tree must be there. Their prices get higher as Christmas time gets nearer. For this year, our family decided to make it simple, just put up a Christmas light then some poinsettia and balls. Then a Santa Clause image was hanging at the ceiling. The "Belen" or Nativity image was arranged in a corner near the Christmas tree. A simple greeting was put up at the entrance and some garlands on the window. So simple yet the spirit of Christmas is there.
Wherever you go here in Metro Manila and probably in provinces, homes are being lighted by Christmas decors. Different kinds of Parols hangs from the window. In our company, during Christmas there is a Parol contest where every department has to make Parols with the use of recycled materials. And our parol always wins for using tree branches or as of this year, we used some parts of mahogany tree. Well, our patients are really creative. I remember when I was in college, we were having our training in Plainview Mandaluyong, the houses at the next street became popular because of the big decors that were put up at their roof or just in front of their house. Each house is surrounded by Christmas light. Then there were some decors and souvenirs being sold at their street. In malls everywhere, the decors also becomes an attraction. Posing in near the huge Christmas tree or beside Santa for souvenir is great. There are also themes depending on the place. Like in Cebu, I saw at my friends photo the hats that were made into Christmas tree. Such an attraction.
The 1st time that I got to experience Christmas party was when I was in kindergarten. Every Christmas thereafter, we choose one day and one place for our Christmas party. Most of the times though, we do it in school. Now that I am already working, we do it in our office to celebrate it with office mates who are on duty. During Christmas party, the Lechon never goes out of place. And the group never runs out of food. Pork, Chicken, Vegetables, Fish, Fruits, Desserts, Refreshments and Wines are on top of the table. The party starts with a program wherein some groups showcase their talents such as dancing, singing and even acting. Then there are games for adults and kids. Everyone participates excited by the prizes they will receive. Then of course, the exchange of gifts brings all the excitement.
It is nice to receive gifts from people you love. Somehow it brings the feeling of being loved in return. No matter how big or small it is, it becomes something you wouldn't want to loose no matter what. But most people finds real happiness seeing other people happy because they've received gifts. Here in the Philippines, it has been the tradition buying gifts for everyone you know especially for the kids. The Christmas bonuses and the salaries sometimes are being spent for gifts. I and my coworkers loves shopping at a last minute then wrapping gifts. Its the best part that I like about Christmas...wrapping gifts for my loved ones, especially for kids. Then I love seeing piles of gifts around the Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve, after the noche buena, my family usually gathers in front of the tree so excited to open what's inside their boxes. And so far, I haven't seen anyone being disappointed for the gifts they received. They would laugh whenever they find it funny or smile whenever it feels touchy. And a simple "Thank You" makes the giver very happy.
Christmas Carols and the Simbang Gabi
Christmas carols sometimes can be heard a month before Christmas. Some people especially the teens or students do this as their way to raise some funds for their party or for their community. They have to earn more to buy gifts for the victims of flood or fire that is common usually in the Metro. Or at times, they donate what they've earned from the orphanage. Other kids however just do it for fun, to have something for their "baon" or some money to buy for the goods they want. Sometimes, what I'd do is give them gifts of goodies such as chocolates and candies. Its like "trick or treat" on halloween, but its fun doing it on Christmas season.
Most groups though starts caroling 9 days before Christmas. I remember when I was in high school, someone said that its the start of Christmas. On the 16th day of the month, the "Simbang gabi" or the "Misa de Gallo" starts. But usually, it is done every 4:00 in the morning that's why its called 9-mornings. It has become the tradition in the Philippines. It is amazing sometimes seeing the Catholic Church flooded by people, mostly by teenagers, every morning. Amazing because teenagers nowadays does not wake up very early. On the 24th day however, it is done midnight or 2 hours before Christmas eve. Older people always says when you have completed the simbang gabi or misa de gallo, your wish will come true. Probably, it is their way of encouraging others to attend the said mass. But what is the Misa de Gallo all about? It is to educate the people especially the Catholics about the birth of Christ. Because that's what Christmas is all about.
The Noche Buena
Every family has their own way of celebrating the Christmas Eve. Most families, attends the 9th Simbang gabi 1st which is done at 10:00 in the Evening of December 24. Some Catholic Churches though do it on midnight. Others make it earlier so families can spend their noche buena at home. Some families celebrate Christmas Eve with a bang! Christmas songs being sang by every member, laughs and giggles around while eating and opening gifts. The drinking of liquor is not prohibited. Others spend it at the park or by watching their favorite band. Some do it peacefully though, gathering at the dining area with the food they only need because what really matters is that, they are complete and feels blessed for the gifts or food they have.
Whatever their style is, what matters most is that the spirit of Christmas is being felt by everyone...Remembering the birth of Jesus Christ with people you love makes Christmas more meaningful.