We may never get a White Christmas, but holidays in the Philippines is just as lovely (and filled with presents!) as it can ever be.
Christmas season in the Philippines typically begins in September, encompassing the “-ber months”, and it ends along with the school’s Christmas vacation in early January. Houses and stores would start having decorations by then: flashing lights, garlands, plastic poinsettias, and other gliterry stuff. As December gets near, heavily-decorated plastic trees would sprout up in different places…even along the streets! It’s also very common to have carolers outside your door starting from late afternoon. These carolers aren’t like the ones with angelic voices in Western movies. It’s more common to hear children who shout more than they sing. But hey, it’s Christmas season so no one really cares!
Every year, we spend the 25th in my dad’s hometown. Back when we were kids, the whole family would gather in our grandparents’ house. Dad has lots of siblings, which means there are even more kids. I have to say I barely know most of my cousins, but we sure enjoyed ourselves there anyway.
To make it fair, we spend New Year’s Eve with relatives from mom’s side. The get-together is still very Christmas-y. There are still trees, lights, and of course, the gifts. We don’t usually get much gifts from dad’s side, but with this other set of relatives, the party would not be complete without getting piles of boxed presents.
Our family celebrations are very typical. We have to wear our best (almost always new) dresses, spend time with the entire clan, and eat, eat, eat. As we get older we get less presents, so we end up just looking forward to the feast. And just like other Filipino celebrations, we always have more than enough food so our holidays are basically spent pigging out. Nevertheless, the most expensive holiday is also the most exciting one — a perfect excuse to party with friends and family who are always busy.
Interesting fact: the photos in this article were taken in 1995-2001. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t have much Christmas photos when we started going digital sometime in 2002. Sad thought.