Once the first of September strikes, the Philippines seems to transform and switch into full-on Yuletide celebration mode—even if Christmas day is technically still more than three months away. Once the “-ber months” roll in, speakers in malls and on the streets begin to blare out Pinoy Christmas classics like the Aegis’ Christmas Bonus, Willie Revillame’s Boom Tarat Tarat, and, of course, the Filipino Christmas anthem, Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas in Our Hearts.
And that’s not all. The celebration doesn’t stop after Christmas Day, and not even on New Year. In the Philippines, the Christmas season is not officially over until after the Feast of Epiphany, which is on January 6. That’s a total of 128 days of Christmas! No wonder why we have the reputation for having the longest holiday season in the whole world.
In the last few years, though, Pinoy netizens seem to be attempting to break our own record and trying to extend the season a little bit more. How? Through Jose Mari Chan memes. As early as August, Filipinos anticipating the beginning of the holidays have been creating or resharing different memes with the singer/songwriter’s face or his song’s iconic opening words. And, with this meme-sharing culture, we might’ve just unlocked a way to kick off the season even earlier than before.
But what is it about the Filipino Christmas season that gets us so hyped, anyway? Lots, and here are the top ten based on a little survey I did (special thanks to those who answered kindly!):
10. THE WEATHER
While we never really get the chance to experience the white Christmas our friends abroad sometimes get, there’s no denying that the cool Christmas breeze is one of the things we long for the most. It’s a welcome change from the sweltering heat we experience for almost the entire year! And besides, who doesn’t like sweater weather?
9. CHRISTMAS CHEER
Jingle Bells, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Christmas jingles from TV networks—Christmas songs just never fail to lighten the mood no matter how your day went. But aside from radio waves broadcasting festive songs and endless Christmas greetings from radio jockeys, there’s really something in the air during the Christmas season that makes everyone seem extra kind or extra warm or extra happy.
8. CHRISTMAS VACATION
For some of us, Christmas is also the perfect time to go to the dream vacation they’ve been planning with friends or family all year. Many also take advantage of the holidays to make a week-long leave from work and go home to their families. Yet others also just prefer to stay home and enjoy a week of sleeping in. Who doesn’t want to wake up at 9 a.m. knowing they won’t have to face the EDSA or Commonwealth traffic or the crazy MRT crowd?
7. CHRISTMAS DECORS
Lights, lanterns, different renditions of the nativity scene, Christmas trees ranging from ones you can put on your desk to ones almost as tall as malls, Santas of different shapes and sizes, and many, many more. The season to be jolly is also the season for our houses and streets to be perky! Don’t you just love walking through brightly-colored streets at night?
6. CHRISTMAS PARTIES
Of course! Who doesn’t like to party? Yeah, well honestly, I don’t. BUT Christmas parties are a different story! It’s a great way to unwind and have fun with your officemates without thinking about tasks or deadlines for once. Company-sponsored Christmas parties are all about good food, great company, and raffles! Admit it, you are always secretly hoping to finally get that siomai steamer.
5. CHRISTMAS BONUS
Aegis wouldn’t be belting out “Ibigay mo na ang aming Christmas Bonus!” if we didn’t so eagerly wait for it, right? After all, getting our Christmas bonus after working super hard for a year feels as good as hitting the lotto jackpot.
Some people just love combing through malls, bazaars, and night markets in search for the perfect gift for their loved ones. There’s nothing more heartwarming than the sparks in the eyes of little kiddos opening presents we carefully and painstakingly picked for them. Likewise, we show the same child-like excitement when opening gifts that our family and friends lovingly chose for us!
Glorious Christmas Food. There’s a reason why many of us return from the Christmas break looking more uhm, “well-rounded” than before. It’s hard to resist the season’s finest offers! There’s nothing like hot, freshly-made bibingka and puto bumbong partnered with steaming coffee or rich, hot cocoa on a cold December morning. Add to that the numerous Christmas pastries and sweets that seem to flood our desks and fridges during Christmas. And of course, Christmas is not complete without the most awaited meal of the season, the Noche Buena.
2. FAMILY REUNIONS
While many of us dread the annual Q&A portion that our Titos and Titas seem to plan for us every year, we really just couldn’t dare skip the Christmas family reunion! The Pinoy Christmas just feels incomplete without it. After all, for most of us, it’s our only chance in a year to catch up with relatives we haven’t seen in a while. Bonus points for family reunions that involve potluck Noche Buena, karaoke, and monito-monita!
1. SIMBANG GABI/CHRISTMAS SERVICES
Of course, for every practicing Christian, the season is all about celebrating Christ, more than all the things mentioned above. There isn’t a happier and more meaningful Christmas than one spent getting together for Misa de Gallo and Christmas services to remember and celebrate the baby in the manger.
And there we go! These are just some of the things that the Pinoy Christmas stands for, and I’m sure there are many more you’ve thought of while reading this article. The Filipino Yuletide celebration is packed to the brim with festivities and awesome traditions. Maybe that’s why we need at least three months to prepare for and celebrate it.