Filipinos loves Christmas! It seems to be our favorite holiday of all. Most of our fond childhood memories were during Christmas. Pinoys feels a certain cheerful vibe during Christmas season. Just visit the Philippines during this time of the year and you will know what I am talking about.
I have spent some Christmases in other countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and almost 5 Christmases in Singapore. It has been fun but will all due respect to other countries, nothing beats Christmas celebration in the Philippines. Probably because the celebration in the Philippines reminds me of my happy childhood and my families back home. Pinoys made so much big deal of Christmas, it is funny but endearing.
So though we can’t go home for Christmas for lots of reasons, here are some ways to feel the Pinoy Christmas Spirit abroad:
1. Listen to Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas songs as early as September
Yes, in the Philippines, when the ber-month starts, the radio station will start blasting on Christmas songs already. That is how excited we are. The countdown would begin. Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in the Hearts” are an all time favorite.
2. Attend a Simbang Gabi from December 16 until eve of Christmas.
Pinoys love Simbang Gabi tradition. We would wake up early at 4:30AM to attend mass braving the cold winds of the morning. They say that if you went to mass from December 16 until Christmas without fail, you can make a wish and it will come true. I was able to do that one time when I was studying for my medical board exam and yes, my wish came true! I passed the board exam. Here in Singapore, they have Simbang Gabi masses held in certain parishes. Instead of dawn masses, they held it at 8 PM.
3. Suggest doing Exchange Gifts / S.P.S.P. (Special Pal) with your group of friends
Gift-giving is part of Christmas tradition. Gather a group of your friends, initiate a Christmas Kringle. Write your name in a piece of paper, roll and put in bowl. Each on will pick a paper and the name of the paper will be the Special Pal. Each week (depending when you plan to start it), everyone will get a gift from their Special Pal depending on the theme of the week e.g. Something Green, Something Sweet, etc.
4. Do some Christmas caroling to friends and family
I think it is more cute if kids do the caroling. Gather a group of Pinoy kids of your friends, teach them popular Christmas carols then send letters to those people who you might think would be receptive in having cute Christmas carolers in their home. It will be a fun sort-of gathering with people. Of course each caroling should end with, “Thank you Thank you! Ang babait ninyo. Thank you!”
5. Have a pot luck Noche Buena
Christmas is best spent with family and friends. The bigger, the better. So gather in one home, bring all the classic Pinoy noche buena food and have a jolly good time. Feasting starts at 12 midnight of te 25th of December. Bring in the karaoke, the San Miguel beers (if available), the gifts, and the Christmas stockings filled by Santa Claus. Don’t forget to pray and be gratitude for a wonderful celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat!