Thursday, 6 December 2012

So This is Christmas

A Filipino, wherever they are in the world, would always long to be home at Christmas time. It's been five years since I have last spent this merry season with my family and the yearning only grows with time. I have walked along the street markets of great European cities, sang carols with my church family in Gibraltar and shared roasted goose with my English family over Christmas dinner and yet none of them has ever come close to capturing the Christmas spirit that we have in my old country. 

In the Philippines, the advent begins as early as September when carols start playing on radio. Elaborate and grand decorations are slowly being put up on the streets and inside the houses. Competitions to light the parks are sponsored by private enterprises and the malls put up the biggest and brightest Christmas trees, some major advertising ploys if one must say but it sure draws the crowds. But of course it wasn't just the commercial machinations of big businesses or music executives cashing in on the biggest Christian celebration in my homeland

The message of Christmas - hope, love, charity - is still very much embraced where I come from. It is a time of mass homecoming where families separated by distance and time, would once again be together in prayer and thanksgiving. And within these families and amongst friends, old wounds are healed and peace is restored. 

I suppose then that it is the meaning of Christmas to its inhabitants that differentiates the spirit of my country's celebration from the Western one. But none is better than the other, for even if perhaps the celebration in this 'politically correct' part of the globe has less to do with the birth of Christ, it shows that Christmas can be celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. It is a perfect example of how people of different cultures and traditions can co-exist with acceptance and respect for each other. 

And because I am a Filipino, from a culture known to be able to see the best in everything, I have also been able to make my cold Christmases away from home special and spiritual (as much as I can!).  In the next posts, I'll try to bring them back to life: 

2008 ~ My first Christmas in Gibraltar
2008 ~ Soup Kitchen in Gibraltar
2009 ~ Christmas markets in Barcelona  
2009 ~ A rainy evening walk in Granada
2009 ~ My second Christmas in Gibraltar
2010 ~ Winter Wonderland in Wetherby
2010 ~ Christmas markets in Sheffield
2010 ~ My first snowfall
2010 ~ Christmas markets in Manchester
2010 ~ Russian Christmas in Chatsworth House
2011 ~ Christmas whizzed past
2011 ~ December in Paris and the Great British escape at Christmas
2012 ~ Christmas markets in Bath
2012 ~ Christmas traditions of my friends from different countries
2012 ~ New Year's Day walk
2012 ~ Our Special Christmas Eve Tradition
2012 ~ Christmas Blues, S-A-D! and the Winter Solstice

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