Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”
This was the song playing when I entered the grocery store today. It took a few seconds before I realized it was a Christmas song, and to think I was singing along with it!
Hearing and singing along to the Christmas song instantly changed my mood. It actually brought a smile into my face. Suddenly, I wasn’t in a hurry to go home anymore. I took my time walking and enjoying what was before me. I told myself, it does look and feel very Christmas-sy in here. Well-lit and gloriously adorned Christmas trees were beautifully lined-up and displayed along with the colorful, shiny and sparkly Christmas decorations – ornaments, wreaths, stockings, candles, ribbons and poinsettias. I also started noticing the people around me doing their Christmas shopping. I felt like the store was transforming right before my eyes. As I got closer to the greeting cards section, I panicked a little bit when I remembered I needed to get my Christmas cards signed and mailed by next week at the latest!
In that brief moment I was inside the store I couldn’t help thinking about Paskong Pinoy (Christmas, the Filipino way). Back in the Philippines, as soon as September hits the calendars, Christmas season officially starts. Filipinos are known to celebrate Christmas the longest in the world, from September to January. They start decorating their houses, usually with christmas trees, lights and parols (star-shaped lanterns). Malls start with their own decorations too. Even street lamps get decorated with parols. Christmas songs are played everywhere – radio stations, buses, malls. Christmas time is also a time for kids to earn money. Every night, they hop from house to house and sing Christmas carols. It feels like the whole country is undergoing a huge transformation. You could definitely feel the spirit. That’s why Filipinos living abroad try to go home and visit their families during this time. For a country where the majority of its citizens are Roman Catholics, Christmas is definitely an important holiday in the Philippines. It’s a much-awaited holiday no wonder it can get so festive. In spite of all its festivities, Christmas celebrations in the Philippines remain traditional and family centered. I think that’s why it’s so unique.
I miss Christmas in the Philippines.
When we remember a special Christmas, it is not the presents that made it special, but the laughter, the feeling of love, and the togetherness of friends and family that made that Christmas special. – Catherine Pulsifer