The Filipinos are considered a simple and happy people. This is evidenced by the fact that many Filipinos love to celebrate for any reason even with meager resources. The cheerful disposition of Filipinos may sometimes surprise and strike the foreigner as a lack of seriousness but upon knowing more about the customs in the Philippines, one would understand that cheerfulness is a part the country's culture.
Family bonds are strong in the Filipinos. If ever there are reasons to celebrate a certain occasion, no matter how insignificant, Filipinos take the opportunity to have reunions and family gatherings. These celebrations include not just the immediate family but other relatives as well, such as uncles, aunties, cousins, nephews, nieces, and grandparents.
For example, Filipinos love to celebrate different occasions that include, among other occasions, the passing of a state board examination of a member of the family, job promotions, "bienvenidas" or "welcome back" celebrations (e.g. the arrival of someone after working some time in another country), "despedidas" or "send-off or farewell parties", such as when a family member would live or work abroad, and even town fiestas, where an entire town celebrates the feast of its patron saint. Filipinos love fiestas. "Fiesta" means feast and this custom was adapted from the Spaniards, who introduced Christianity in the Philippines. The fiesta is an occasion to give thanks for all the blessings that a town has received.
Of course, Filipinos also love to celebrate thanksgiving parties, such as when a family member got cured of a long illness, or simply when a family likes to just thank God for the many blessings that have been bestowed on them. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, even death anniversaries, baptisms or christening, Christmas and Easter, are standard celebrations which include the entire extended family. For example, I would not be surprised if suddenly, all my relatives visit my home during my birthday or when they come over for Christmas. Celebrating Christmas in the Philippines is probably the longest in the entire world. The spirit of Christmas usually fills the air during the "ber" months -- September, October, November and December, and usually until the first few weeks of January.
Come September, one would already hear Christmas carols being aired over the radio. Malls and department stores would start their "Christmas" sale and some would even go as far as having Christmas decorations by September. Everyone looks forward to Christmas as this would be a great occasion to visit families in the province, especially if someone spends the entire year working in a distant city. Many companies usually go on vacation beginning a week before Christmas, December 25, until the first week of January. During the Christmas season, it is not unusual for someone to attend several Christmas parties. There is a Christmas party with office friends, another party with high school classmates or even university batchmates, parties with the members of one's sports club, company sponsored parties, and of course, several family Christmas parties.
During Christmas, I usually watch my diet since there is usually a lot of eating!.
Elmer Anthony Olaer is an avid traveller, writer and webmaster of A2 Philippine travel and vacation website. He is also the webmaster of Ola Macau Travel and the China Hong Kong travel web sites.