Words by Frances Leones
The Philippines has the longest Christmas season among all other countries. And, honestly, it’s great to be getting into the holiday spirit so early in the year. Christmas is a time for family, love, and celebration so getting the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends, spread love and good cheer, and have fun earlier than other countries is pretty cool.
But, of course, the fact that our country has the longest Christmas season in the world means that some things that are usually expected to happen only in December happen early. And, for some, it could cause them to get exasperated and exclaim, “Ano ba ‘yan? Hindi pa naman December!” while others would say, “Yep. It’s Christmas in the Philippines now.”
You know the Ber Months have begun when you hear “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” The good news is that the song will stop being blasted at regular intervals once it’s October 1st.
Setting up the Christmas Tree Early
If your family’s the type who follows the traditional holiday timeline, chances are that you’ve walked into the living room on the morning of September 1st (or if your family’s more lax, September 2) to find your parents struggling to set up that plastic pine tree while Christmas baubles, holly garlands, and other festive ornaments are strewn all over the floor. And while that’s going on, the radio is probably…
Blasting Christmas Carols Everywhere
Once the ‘Ber Months’ begin, hits like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Jingle Bells.” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” start getting played in homes, malls, radio stations… Basically, any place that has a speaker. It’s also the Rise of the Carolers, with aspiring musicians going from door-to-door to sing for a little payment. And for us Pinoys, once the Christmas season kicks off, there is one musician who dominates the charts.
Jose Mari Chan
You know it’s Christmas in the Philippines when you hear “Whenever I See Girls and Boys Selling Lanterns on the Street” just about everywhere you go. By the time December arrives, you’ve probably memorized all of the lyrics.
Christmas-Themed Malls Galore
Malls always like to keep abreast of the holidays so expect your next mall outing to be filled with Christmas-themed decor. This is also the time when sales for Christmas trees, decorations, and gift baskets start popping up so you can prepare for the holidays early. From the usual cardboard or plaster Santas, Snowmen, and Rudolphs to the more contemporary Frozen-style ice palaces and giant walk-in snowglobes with fake snow swirling around them, the malls are bound to get a serious makeover once the ‘Ber Months’ begin. However, all that early holiday decorating inevitably leads to conflict with another festive occasion happening before December…
The Halloween vs Christmas War
It’s the age-old dispute over which decorations to put up every year. Dismantle your Christmas lights and put up jack o’ lanterns or keep them up to confuse those trick-or-treaters? Some say that Halloween should get priority as it happens on October 31st, which takes precedence while Christmas can wait as it officially falls on December 25th. So sinong mag-aadjust?
Friends Dropping Hints About their Wishlists for This Year
Whether it’s casually bringing up that new phone model that was just released, posting pics of celebs rocking a new designer line, or straight up sending you a picture of a prized book or makeup line on Messenger, your friends’ subtle not-so-subtle hints on what they want for Christmas will be made known to you early on.
During the holidays, everyone’s excited to get together and see each other now that they’re more or less on vacation. But there will always be that one room for family Christmas drama during reunions where you will be bombarded with tons of nosey questions. Aside from the one mentioned in the photo above, other iconic awkward questions asked by your tita, tito, lola, lolo, cousin, distant relative during family reunions include, “May boyfriend ka na ba?” “Kailan ka ikakasal?” and “Ano ulit yung trabaho mo?”
Awkward silence intensifies.
A staple during Noche Buena. Some like it, some hate it. Sometimes there’s melon, sometimes there’s nata de coco. And sometimes it’s too sweet or too creamy. Whatever your preference is, there’s no escaping this somewhat healthy dessert during the holidays.
Brightly Lit Streets
As if by magic, those streets you’ve often complained about not having enough light during nighttime burst into life with holiday-themed light fixtures. Dazzling displays guaranteed, but imagine the electricity bill.
When the Christmas season starts in the Philippines, these beautiful star-shaped lanterns – ranging in sizes, designs, and colors – appear to brighten up even the dreariest of streets during the night. Made to represent the star that led the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem, the parol is an iconic symbol of the Filipino Christmas.
Family coming over from all corners of the world to celebrate the holidays at home? That can only mean one thing: traffic jams from hell. Is it just me, or is the ride to the Christmas party more physically and mentally draining than the party itself?
Are there any other Pinoy Christmas traditions we might have missed? Let us know in the comments!