By Leila Amerling
Ahh September...Personally, I think it’s one of the best months of the year. You still have a chance to soak up a few more hot beach days but you’re also being eased into fresh, crisp Fall weather. As we gear up to getting our first taste of PSLs (aka pumpkin spice lattes) and all other things pumpkin for the season, the other side of the hemisphere is starting to get ready for, believe it or not, Christmas!
Oh yes, it's that time of year when malls, hotels, and radio stations across the Philippines are beginning to play Christmas carols and decking their halls with lights and decorations. While we in the U.S. anticipate to celebrate other festive holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving (has anyone else noticed that the supermarkets are starting to sell Halloween candy way too early by the way?) Filipinos gear up to celebrate Christmas. Although it’s technically not the only holiday celebrated between now and December (a.k.a the “-BER” months; stay tuned for our post about All Saints’ Day this November), Christmas is by far the favorite and highly anticipated holiday in the country, also the longest celebrated holiday of the year.
Throughout the “-BER” months, fake Christmas trees are sold on the streets, tiangges (markets) pop up throughout the city, fruit cakes are being baked and exchanged, queso de bolas (cheese balls) are being stocked up at supermarkets, and the same Christmas carols from the 80s and 90s are playing on repeat everywhere. Side note: the “-BER” months are also known as such because the country starts to cool down by a few degrees. It’s still the tropics, so cooling down means highs of 90 degrees and lows of upper 70s.
Not only is Christmas a time for presents and food though, it is also the holiday in which beloved family members come home from working overseas. During this time, Filipino overseas workers start sending balikbayan boxes (aka care packages) to their families and booking their flights home. This, I believe is truly what makes this holiday the most anticipated and happiest time of the year.
Coincidentally, scientific reports have indicated that putting up Christmas decorations early can actually make you happier. Perhaps this is why Filipinos are known to be some of the nicest and happiest people in the world. So while you skim through Amazon for the perfect Halloween costume, it’s perfectly acceptable to start digging out your Christmas lights and detangling them.