Filipino Christmas is unique as the culture. Filipinos celebrate Christmas from September until January. As early as September, Christmas sales starts mushrooming and people actually rush in to buy. By the end of September, many houses are decorated, if not completely, at least, partially.
By the first week of December, Christmas parties abound. There are different parties for co-workers, for close friends, for neighbors, for kids, for oldies, for classmates, for the immediate family, for the whole clan, etc. Sometimes a person could be in 5 different Christmas parties in one day. LOL
Some Filipinos have “Simbang Gabi.” They hear mass at dawn for 9 days. They have this belief that if you complete the 9 days, whatever you wish for will come true. This practice originated from Mexico.
Filipinos also exchange gifts. Our version of secret santa is called Monito Monita. Imagine having to exchange gifts with people in 5 different parties in a day. LOL My imagination often exaggerates, but seriously, I think this practice greatly contributes to the commercialization of Christmas. Some people like to show off by giving expensive gifts and then they feel bad when they receive a lesser valued gift. Sigh…
Aside from exchanging gifts, generous Filipinos are also fond of giving “Aguinaldos.” Aguinaldo refers to cash in any amount. The name came from a Philippine 5-Peso bill in honor of the former President Emilio Aguinaldo. The bill is no longer in circulation, but we still like to call cash gifts during Christmas as Aguinaldos. A lot of people prefers receiving Aguinaldos because they can buy things which they actually want versus receiving gifts they don’t like.
Some people use the occasion to get drunk and eat to their heart’s desire. Some people like Christmas only because of the gifts and aguinaldos that they are anticipating. Some people use the occasion to see and spend quality time with their families.
Some people never forget that the reason for celebrating the holiday is that one time (although the Bible does not state an exact date), Jesus Christ our Savior was born into this world.