Sunday, August 23, 2009

This 'ber Season

Whenever I mention to non-Filipino friends that Filipinos herald the coming of Christmas by the 1st of September, I am always met by a huge amount of curiosity, wide eyes and a barrage of questions. Well, my dear friends, it is true! Haha! We have the longest celebration of Christmas that I know of all over the world!

By the 1st of September, Christmas songs will start peppering the airwaves, people start saving up for gifts, or buying them. The weather is noticeably cooler, and gets cooler still, until February. Even strangers are more convivial to each other. We love the 'ber season!

Except for the All Saints' and All Souls' Days on Nov. 1 and 2, there's nothing else between September and Christmas. No Christmas songs on those days, but there's a resounding comeback by the next! Christmas trees are up right after Nov. 2, some before.

Many also enjoy the traditional manito-manita (secret Santa) at home, in offices, schools, wherever there's a willing crowd. How you do it is you all write a fictitious name on a piece of paper, roll it up and put them all together in a container. Each gets to pick a piece of paper and that's the person you give a gift to depending on the rules. Rules may be weekly or daily (or whenever) gift-giving (not necessarily expensive), each week (or day, or whenever) corresponds to a certain gift that is simply described, and up for the giver (secret santa) to interpret. Say, this week, something long and slimy. It runs up till Christmas Day where each one reveals his true identity. Fun? You can say that again!

We also have our traditional Misa De Aguinaldo (misa - mass, aguinaldo - gift), which is a series of masses celebrated at dawn (around 4 at the earliest). It starts on Dec. 16th, and ends on the 24th, at midnight, a nine-day gift of the faithful to the Lord Jesus and Mother Mary. It is a very sacred devotion (novena), and I used to pine when there were times that I wasn't able to complete it. Then there's the noche buena (midnight meal) after the midnight masses On Dec. 24th (Christmas eve) and Dec. 31st (New Year's eve). And then there are the fireworks.

There are lanterns everywhere, of different sizes and colors. There are lantern parades. There's puto-bumbong (traditional rice cake, very famous at Christmastime), and lots of other traditional goodies awaiting church-goers after each dawn mass. There is just so much happiness unfelt at any other time.

And the holiday doesn't end on Jan. 1st. There's the celebration of the Three Kings on the 6th of January. Many Christmas trees stay up till February. Some decors stay all year long!

Sigh. It will be September in a week. I'm pining - again. I'm sorely missing all that.


The Philippines is more than 80% Catholic, and strong traditions are what bind people together.


Jesusa said...

ka mimiss man daw san pasko sa aton.

RheyBenz said...

nothing more lovelier than spending christmas with loved ones specially in Phils. Wishing you all in Advance a Wonderful Christmas to come!..

cherie said...

aysus, misunun ko na, grace.

from our family to yours, too, rhey! keep well!


Before we know it, it's going to be Christmas! time does fly so fast... I've been to the Philipinnes for work before. Beautiful & friendly people! ~SELAMAT!! ;)
Have a blessed new week dear!

Thinking out loud said...

ah-huh! it's the 'ber season and yup, christmas is just around the corner. love that you still remember your pinoy roots! way to go sweetie! btw, your inaanak keeps making me singil for you every xmas. hehehe.
how do i get my award?

Deb Murphree/Alabama Politics said...

Cherie How interesting that Philippines are 80 percent Catholic. I did NOT know that. Thanks for sharing that neat tidbit with us. Your site is so informative and interesting...You go girl!!! Lova ya.

Deb Murphree/Alabama Politics said...

lmao!!!!! You can tell I just woke up not long ago. 80 percent of Philippines are Catholic..(instead of Philippines are 80 percent Catholic)...ha ha..I'm 100 percent Seventh day Adventist.

JennyMac said...

Hi Cherie! My dearest apologies. I saw your Cupcake Award after I wrote my Awards post but you are definitely properly added now! Please pop back over to the awards party.

Best, JennMacy

Icy BC said...

Wow..Christmas in September and celebrate it for such a long time to come! How awesome is that!!!

Karinann said...

What beautiful traditions. A whole 3 months to prepare for Jesus' birthday! Thanks for sharing your heritage and traditions.
God Bless!

rainfield61 said...

I always believe I am very imaginative. But I have failed this time. You start celebrating Christmas from September!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stephanie Faris said...

How exciting! Well, in America our stores have started gearing up for it already. We were in Home Depot a couple of weeks ago figuring their outdoor patio furniture would be on was already gone. The sales rep said they were making way for Christmas trees!!! Halloween isn't even here yet. Here, though, it's not about celebrating the season for them. They start early so they can make more money.

Cher said...

lol! natawa ako sa comment ni rainfield! is it that unimaginable? hahaha!

what i miss most is attending the simbang gabi and the family reunions. i think i will miss it again this year. :(

happyone said...

Sorry, but that is way too much Christmas for me!! I like to put my tree up the first week in Dec and have everything put away again by New Years Day. :-)

T. Anne said...

Aww, Merry Christmas anyways! How interesting, thanks for letting us know.

Just A Mom (Call me JAM for short) said...

Oh my, that is a whole lot of celebrating! Sounds like a good time though...

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Interesting, Cherie. I love hearing others' traditions. Our Christmases here in the USA are getting longer and longer---much to the chagrin of many of us.

We TRY not to celebrate Christmas UNTIL after Thanksgiving--but it's in the stores much earlier. We do celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas --between Dec. 25 and Jan. 6 (Epiphany). BUT--most of us are 'finished' with Christmas in our minds after the 25th.

Thanks for sharing...

cherie said...

ms. lenore, how wonderful! salamat means thank you! maraming salamat din po sainyo! (thank you very much, too!)

you are the funnies, ms. deb! hahahaha! no matte, we are all children of God! love ya lots!

hello, there, jennmacy! you're funny, too! i'll be right over in a few!

hello, Icy! you should go there sometime!

so glad you could come by, karinann! we are proud of our traditions and enjoy sharing them with anyone willing to listen.

funny, rainfield! i don't know that we call it 'celebration' that early. some pinoys (filipinos) probably do. but it's more of a feeling thing. we feel it in the air as soon as the 1st of september comes.

we love christmas here in the states, too, steph! i esp. enjoy watching snowfalls and the pristine whiteness when you wake up in the morning (if and when it snows on Christmas). we filipinos gather together and go to mass and do gift-givings. only the place is different. but the feeling remains the same.

haha! i know, ms. happyone! we put up the tree after Thanksgiving over here, too.

i miss all of them, cher! rainfield is funny! lol!

my pleasure, T. Anne!

that is so true, ms. betsy. that's okay, though! the malls and stores are lovely, and the boys (and i) enjoy pose with santa! hugs!!

des, tell ralph babawi din si ninang! i'll email you...

Ayie said...

ber season for pinoys means christmas is near!!! too bad can't go home this holiday season

i grabbed the cupcake award, thanks. I will post it in my jif photojournal blog. That's where i put the awards =) or should it be for cook it up?


Scarlet said...

The 'ber season...I like that! The spirit doesn't usually hit me until after Thanksgiving so I love that you start your Christmas celebration early!

My parents ONLY celebrated the 3 King's Day on Jan. 6th until they came to the states. Now that day is just like any other, unfortunately.

I think I should bring the day back to my family! What do you think??

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Oh sorry you're missing all those wonderful things that say Christmas back home. I don't begin celebrating until later but I'm almost finished shopping and have all my yarn and materials to make hats, scarves and quilts for Christmas gifts.
Hopefully, I'll be ready!

betchai said...

haha, you are so right Che, it's kind of fascinating how we can transition from having joyful christmas songs starting september yet they were not played on nov 1st and 2nd, our respect for the dead and the saints shows how we can stop the joyful holiday songs.

sunnymama said...

How interesting to read about your different celebrations! Christmas is very commercialised and all about consumerism here unfortunately.

Debbie said...

I had no idea! And we are Catholic but recently we had a priest who implored us not to do any decorating, etc. until Christmas Eve.

Droomvla said...

An nami miss ko talaga, an tamuyaw ni Fr. Diesta kun simbang gabi na maglimogmog or magsepilyo daw anay bag-o magpasimbahan. Dili ada kaya san powers niya an ganghaw kun communion. HAHAHAHAHAHA

Bonnie Bonsai said...

'ber back home means cold season.... brrrrrr... i don't know how we survived living in Lumbatan, Ganassi and Marawi City. Especially in Lumbatan where the house we lived was made of bamboo from haligi (posts) to the rooftop. even our food was bamboo.

like reminiscing here cherie pie. :)

go and grab the koala for the boys in My World at quadrat please!

cherie said...

ayie, it's for Cook It Up. that's right, September means Christmas is near, it heralds the Crhistmas Season. thanks, ayie!

wow. well, the 6th of Januaru has particular significance for thif family as well coz one of us celebrates a birthday, lol! thanks, scarlet!

hi, ms. sandy! so proud of you! so organized! i'll probably be done SHORTLY before Christmas eve, hahaha! i know - we're all missing the authentic tradition, the practice lives on here, but it's not quite the same!

i'm keeping as ear cocked IN CASE i do hear Christmas songs on Sept. 1st, beth! i'll let you all know!

hello, Sunny Mama! i've missed you here for the longest time! i've been passing on the awards you gave me to everybody else! huge hugs! and many thanks! i think commercialism has hit the philippines as well. i love sharing of stories about life, and culture! they make for interesting conversation!

hello, debbie! yup! september ushers in the feeling of Christmas. it heightens anticipation of the season. it has magic in the air. it makes everyone extra friendly, kind, thoughtful. it's SOMETHING! well, the priest probably wants you to celebrates nov. 1 and 2 first in all its solemnity.

war ako dida duda, maris! hahahahaha!!!

a bamboo house, how cool is that! you are an authentic Filipino, ate Inday - that's our ultimate trademark! not too many know that the bamboo is the sturdiest grass, it bends and sways with the wind. it is even used to shield oue beloved 'sili' (pepper bushes) from the harsh typhoons, hahahah! kudos to you for sharing. be right over!

HUGE HUGS to you all for all your wonderful, thoughtful comments! we don't start 'celebrating' Christmas on September 1st, in that the specail masses don't start till dec. 16th. but there is MUCH ANTICIPATION of Christmas, it is the start of the cold season, and the Christmas carols start playing. please forgive the typo errors, and the general confusion the topic may have brought. bring on the questions!!! much love, cherie

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