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  • Writer's pictureJohn

The 'ber months

Welcome to the world's longest Christmas season, September 1st to the feast of Santo Niño(3rd Sun of Jan). It's also home to the birthday month, town Fiestas,

boodle fights(a huge dinner with no silverware),

and nearly weekly festivals.

Beginning September 1st you'll hear Christmas music in every mall and store, fully decorated trees set up overnight, lights and tinsel everywhere! Filipinos are a people that love to celebrate and Christmas is the biggest reason of all to celebrate here. Here the season centers more on Jesus than the commercialism that has taken over elsewhere.

The Christmas Parol is a very common and very Filipino decoration. They are as beloved and iconic to the Philippines as Christmas trees are to Westerners. They represent the Star of Bethlehem that guided the 3 magi to the Christ child. In the picture above is a parol the locals in Tacloban set up immediately after the hurricane Yolanda(Haiyan in the Philippines) went through. No matter the situation Filipinos will find reason to celebrate.

The Belen is another decoration that is still very common here most Westerners will know as the Nativity Scene. Here it's still seen everywhere from the local churches, to malls, town halls, schools, in homes, basically everywhere. Tarlac City is known as the Belen capital of the Philippines. Giant versions of the belén with different themes are displayed in front of the establishments and roads of Tarlac for the entire season.

Christmas Carolers are still a thing here. Kids, teens, even adults get together and go door to door singing and some even dance along. You're expected to give a few pesos for their efforts but it's worth it. Last year there weren't many out because of all the lockdowns but I'm looking forward to them this year.

Sadly for the last year most celebrations have been shut down but they still manage to sneak in Birthday parties and anniversary parties occasionally. If you've never had the opportunity to attend a Filipino celebration find a way to go to one! They are amazing! Town Fiestas are a huge event in every city, town, village, barangay basically anywhere two or more families are living. You'll be walking along and have people inviting you to stop and eat and drink with them repeatedly. And you'll hear karaoke from virtually every other house. Filipinos love karaoke at any time but especially during celebrations. Not too surprising when you realize they've been singing and dancing since they've been old enough to walk & talk most are decent singers, not like the drunken karaoke sessions at the local bar or pub in other parts of the world. I was hoping to attend my first Simbang Gabii, a nine day series of pre-dawn masses from Dec 16th to the 24th. Last year the local church got permission to still celebrate the mass but with limited attendance so I chose not to go to allow the local devotees to attend, Papa and Mama did go. I'm hoping this year will be better for the Christmas season there are so many celebrations going on that I'm looking to attend this year.

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