BER months and I can already feel the Christmas spirit in the air, especially if accompanied by this cold weather we are currently experiencing. Cebuanos, well Filipinos in general, always love Christmas. The parties, endless shopping sales, festivities, gift giving and even short family gatherings. That’s what keeps motivating Cebuanos to start the Christmas countdown as soon as Christmas ended.
No place celebrates Christmas like the way the Filipinos does and I’ve written down some things to expect in Cebu as soon as the BER months kicks in.
- Setting Christmas lanterns and trinkets
It’s pretty much everyone’s tradition to re-design their homes according to the season, and we Cebuanos (and Filipinos in general) took this on a whole new level. Instead of just setting Christmas trees, lanterns and trinkets in our homes, we also hang Christmas lanterns on the street lamp post. It’s kind of our way of reminding everyone to be “nice” because Santa is coming and it’s also our way of sending good vibes to commuters, jeepney drivers, public vehicle drivers and passersby. So, when they look at the lanterns hanging on the lamp posts, they’ll be reminded to stay cool, especially now that Cebu’s traffic situations has escalated on a whole new level as well.
- Shopping spree
Children are very much excited when September 1 finally came because it’s that time of the year when they can receive obligatory gifts (it’s not actually an obligatory gift, I’m just being a bitch about it) from their “ninangs or ninongs” (godparents). I should know because I was once a kid too and I’ve craved Christmas as soon as January comes.
What they don’t know is how hard it is to shop for the right gift to give to them. Thankfully, there’s always a mall sale happening every month so you can actually shop ahead of time, if you don’t want to join the Christmas rush party.
- Night market
This jives with the upper item.
The Colon street (starting from Metro Colon until near the University of the Visayas Cebu City campus) sets up a night market some time in December or late November which opens at 6pm. Here, you can find lots of products to buy and you can actually bargain on a much cheaper price, one thing you can’t possibly do in a mall. But, just be sure to be mindful of your personal belongings and beware of pick pockets, the night market can be a bit crowded too. The place is not only limited to RTWs, housewares, accessories, and the like, you can also find a row of barbecue stalls to dine.
Night market is a pretty big hit on college students or students in general and citizens who are on a tight budget.
- Christmas caroling
Even if its not -ber months yet, you can already find a group of street children doing caroling on jeepneys, while it is very generous of you to give them an ample amount of money, you should know that it is not allowed to do so. Anyway, this is not the caroling I wanted to talk about. I am going to tackle, house to house Christmas caroling.
House to house Christmas caroling is also one of the Filipino customs I can never get used to. It’s pretty much simple; someone barges into your front lawn or gate, play their instruments and then start singing, while pretending not to notice that the owner of the house you’re serenading, pretends not to hear anything — which is what I sometimes do when I’m alone at home.
I did caroling at most twice in my life, first was when I was in elementary with my batch mates and the second one was with my cousins. The crazy part was with my cousins; we only knocked on the doors of our parents. It’s actually so much fun when you do house to house caroling. I mean, it’s scary sometimes but it’s more fun than scary, especially when you come across that part where a dog chases your group and you all run like hell and ended up laughing at your stomach. Can you imagine that?
- Giant Christmas tree
I just found out about this when I went to the big city for college not so long ago. They are setting up this huge Christmas tree in the Fuente Circle with various themes each year accompanied by different lanterns made from ingenious materials hung around the circle, which I later on realized was actually from various barangays in the city.
I had the chance to see the festive vibe of this place and the gorgeous Christmas tree one time when there was a program held in the circle which was held a few days before December 25.
- Kasadya Sa SRP
Don’t know when their operation started, but, ever since me and my cousins heard about this, we’ve been visiting this place. It’s an amusement park, our version of a Disneyland and Enchanted Kingdom. You should try their Galactic ride!
Although located in a remote (and by remote, I mean where public transportation is scarce) area, it didn’t stop enthusiasts from going, that is why they have offered free rides to citizens who wants to come and visit. The pick up area is below the Mambaling bridge.
- Fully booked hotels and resorts
Parties here and parties there. Bookings here and bookings there. Christmas parties and family gatherings are the signature of a Filipino Christmas. So, if you are scouting for the perfect place to hold a party or a gathering, I suggest you do it fast and book ahead because if you don’t, then you’re in for a headache. Good luck finding a place a few days before your event, if you can find one.
- Christmas party
As I’ve mentioned, Christmas parties’ a signature of a Filipino Christmas. Plannings and meetings are made as soon as it is September 1. And some even have the party before December.
- Secret Santa
With Christmas party comes secret santa — which we Cebuanos called “manito manita” — and an optional extended week of gift giving called Kris Kringle which we dubbed as “something something”. It is basically just a gift giving week with a little bit of a challenge or a game in it where everyone should give the ones they’ve picked a gift that belongs to a certain category set for the day. For example, today, Thursday, the category is “something soft”, so everyone’s gift should be something soft, like a pillow perhaps, or a teddy bear.
Some Cebuanos are creative about this secret santa thing, while some just writes your name in a piece of paper, roll it and then place it in a jar for everyone to pick, others are up for a more challenging take; they let you think of a codename, you write them down on a paper strip and pass it along to the accomplice and then he or she re-writes it. It’s a pretty tough challenge because you don’t have the slightest idea whether you’ve picked a he or a she and it’s pretty hard to look for a gift that is suited for both gender.
Every Filipinos love a good fireworks display, especially if it’s a pyromusical, but sadly that only happens in the January. Not to fret, the sky will still dance with lights and to the sound of the fireworks on the evening of Christmas, although it’s a little less than what we’re about to witness on a New Year’s eve.
- Simbang Gabi
Of course, who would forget this? Simbang Gabi also known as Misa de Gallo has always been a Catholic tradition. It’s basically a few days of mass held at 4am (either earlier or later) and it is said that anyone who completes that certain days of mass, will have their wish granted. I’ve never believed it anyway.
- Christmas bonus and Gift cards
Who am I kidding? No one’s ever gonna miss this! It’s that only one time of the year where you can hold money half or greater than what you usually earn a month. With the 13th month pay, Christmas bonus and a gift card… it’s a win win! You can reward yourself a new gadget, a new book or maybe have your house renovated. And gift cards? Well, you can give that to your godchildren, saves you the trouble of shopping for them, or you could just keep it to yourself.
- Hmpf! Traffic
Well, with the good things comes the bad part and I expect the Christmas rush traffic will be far more worse than it already is, especially if the SM Seaside City finally opens.
And that’s about it! I’m pretty sure you guys are dreading Christmas than you already are. Is it 109 days till Christmas? I’m not quite sure, but, I do know someone who starts the countdown on September 1 or maybe even on the first day of the year.
What do you think? Am I missing something?