Time really flies so fast. Forty-five days to go and it’s Christmas once again - my second here in Israel. Filipinos are just crazy about the Yuletide Season. It is the biggest, most celebrated holiday back home, just like the Thanksgiving is in the USA or the Pesach or Passover is to Israel.
We boast about being the Christian country that has the longest celebration of Christmas. The holiday officially starts on December 16 and ends on the Feast of the Three Kings, which has a movable date that usually falls on the first week of January of the New Year.
Forty-five days still to go, you might counter – why do I have to write about it this early? The fact is, it is hard for me not to think about the coming holidays, especially now that some of my friends have started emailing me with advanced Xmas greetings. They knew Christmas is not celebrated here in Israel so in a way they are teasing about my not being able to be there in Manila for the holidays.
Albeit I told them about having another special Christmas in Bethlehem, I am really sad about not being back home in December. I miss the nightly carols of children, and the carol songs played over and over on the radio stations. I love Manila at night, which I am sure is already brightly lit during the evenings as colorful lanterns and lights usually adorn houses, facades of buildings and most highways and streets. That I am also going to miss.
Christmas in Manila is all about family reunions, grand feasts and parties, expensive gift giving, attending the nine day masses, having fun at the seasonal carnivals and fairs, going to Xmas concerts. The Filipino Yuletide Season, in other words, is all about great fun.
Of course here in Israel, Christmas will still be celebrated by me and my Filipino friends. But definitely a toned down celebration. No big parties, just a simple dinner at the evening of December 24. And I am not yet sure about Bethlehem Midnight Mass. If it does not push through, we can all enjoy hearing the mass at St. Anthony’s Church here in Tel Aviv - Jaffa. What’s important is that celebrate the birthday of Jesus, which is what Christmas really is all about.