RT Cunningham


Christmas Holiday Season in the United States and the Philippines

Christmas The Christmas holiday season in most parts of the Philippines is a lot like it is in some parts of the United States. I say some because it’s like those parts where it doesn’t snow in the United States (but not like the deserts, obviously).

Since 2006, I’ve lived longer in the Philippines than anywhere else. It doesn’t snow anywhere in the Philippines. From what I understand, ice in any other form has never fallen from the skies there either.

When does the Christmas Holiday Season Start?

In the United States, the Christmas holiday season generally starts the day after Thanksgiving Day and ends on New Year’s Day. I’m sure some cultures will have nothing to do with the season, mostly because of religious conflicts.

In the Philippines, the holiday season starts on the first day of September. Traditional American Christmas music can already be heard while shopping and while listening to it on the radio. If it’s a “ber” month, people are already looking forward to Christmas.

Christmas Holiday Season Weather

While it snows at times somewhere in every state of the United States (including Hawaii), it never snows in any province of the Philippines. It’s close to the equator and the mountains (and volcanoes) aren’t high enough. I don’t think ice has ever fallen either and I’m kind of glad it hasn’t. The only damage to roofing and vehicles is usually limited to bird excrement.

It rains every month of the year in the Philippines. I would never trade any of it for snow. Although I’ve never lived in a climate where it snows regularly, I’ve had to deal with it on occasion. I’ve had one white Christmas (not by choice) and it was the biggest pain in the buttocks I ever experienced.

For me, it’s never even cold in the Philippines. Not even in the areas where people say it gets cold, like Baguio City and Tagaytay. Strangely, those same temperatures actually feel cold in Florida. I can only blame the differences on the extremely high humidity of the Philippines.

Christmas Holiday Season Music

I don’t like the music associated with the season. Well, most of it anyway. That’s because most of it deals with cold weather and snow. It’s very strange for me to hear the same music in the Philippines as I do in the United States.

What strikes me as incredibly funny is watching the Filipino variety shows my wife (Josie) watches. She has the TFC TV app on her cell phone. The musical numbers include American Christmas songs. Many of the entertainers are singing about things they’ve never experienced and may never experience in the future. Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh, really?

Christmas Trees and Other Visible Signs

Josie and I have had a Christmas tree put up in our house most of the years we were in the Philippines during the Christmas holiday season. When we didn’t, it didn’t really matter. My mother-in-law’s house has always had a Christmas tree put up and her house is in my compound.

I haven’t seen the things in the Philippines that I haven’t seen in the United States. Wreaths on the front door, mistletoe, stockings hung in front of chimneys and things like that are as foreign to me as it is for any Filipino. The only place I’ve seen any of those things are on television and at the movies.

We’ve had Christmas lights strung up on our front fence for some of the years but I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t know how Christmas caroling is done in the United States because I’ve never experienced it anywhere other than the Philippines. In the Philippines, caroling is like a business. People will come around, sing and play guitars and expect to get paid for it.

Because my house in the Philippines is one of the nicer ones, it’s like a magnet during the holidays. I tend to avoid the nonsense by remaining in the house.

Christmas Gifts

Those who can afford to do so, give. Those who can’t, receive. Some givers receive as well but things are usually very lopsided.

In the Philippines, the young godchildren will go out early on Christmas Day to visit all of their godparents to get their yearly gifts as cash. Most of my godchildren are either grown up or too far away to visit me. If I happen to be in the United States, gifts will be under the Christmas trees. Some of them will be from Josie and me, naturally.

I’m not really a Scrooge during the Christmas holiday season but I really don’t like all the nonsense associated with it. I avoid the music and other traditional forms of entertainment. Gift giving is something I prefer to do when it’s necessary, not during some special occasion. And it’s usually what a person needs versus what a person wants (though they’re sometimes the same thing).

Photo Attribution: Pete Markham from Loretto, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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By RT Cunningham
December 23, 2018
Special Occasions