Few days left, and it’s the day we’ve been all waiting for! Can you already feel the coldness or the hotness of Christmas?
Here in the Philippines, I can already feel the cold breeze of the air. As I wake up early in the morning, I could feel the chill as I go out from our house. For me, it’s already the sign that Christmas is fast approaching.
But do you know that there’s a country down under that experiences the opposite? Yes, you read it right! If our country experiences a cold climate in this season, Australia on the other hand, experiences a sultry environment.
Christmas down under is never white unlike the other countries like the United States, and Canada. Currently in this country, it is summer and daily temperatures range from 30-40 degrees centigrade on the mainland.
Because these two countries have different climate, they also have different traditions of celebrating the holiday season.
Children in the Philippines have their own way of spending their Christmas vacation. On the first to second week of December, kids are already busy with attending Christmas parties and shopping gifts for their monitos/monitas.
Most Filipinos do not pay much attention to Santa Claus unlike other countries. Because Filipinos are known to be religious, the center of the Christmas celebration is Jesus who was born here on earth to save the world. In different provinces and schools, the journey of Joseph and the pregnant Blessed Virgin Mary in search of lodging is re-enacted by children. The play is traditionally called the Panunuluyan.
Also, I remember when I was a kid, I used to come with my playmates and go from house to house singing Christmas carols or pangangaroling on cold breezy nights. We make our own tambourines made with tansans or aluminum bottle caps strung on a piece of wire. We often start our caroling in the last week of November.
Meanwhile, Christmas is also special to most of the Australians for it is a summer holiday season, and children especially are wrapping up their school year. That means, they are just waiting for their grades to be released, as well as getting ready for Christmas.
I remember my cousin Amber, who lives there, saying that majority of Australian kids spend their holiday vacation by playing under the heat of the sun, surfing on the cool waves of the sea, and shopping lots of gifts for their family and friends . She also shared that at their own homes, many of the traditional Christmas rituals are being followed. Decorations are being bought and set up. Christmas stockings are being hung in homes, letters are being written to Santa Claus, family Christmas tree are being decorated, and Christmas carols are being sung at festive occasions such as public “Carols by Candlelight” and school concerts.
This season is also a time for the family to get together and cook special meals.
Because it’s a summer season for the Australians, traditional dinners have been replaced with family gatherings in back yards, picnics in parks, gardens and on the beach. According to my cousin, it is the occasion to be with friends and relatives, to share love and friendship and not to forget, the exchange of gifts.
For many, it is a time to enjoy and consume various kinds of Christmas food. Most families try to be home for Christmas and the main meal is eaten at lunch time. Their typical menu could include seafood, glazed ham, cold chicken, duck or turkey, cold deli meats, pasta, salads galore, desserts of all types, fruit salad, pavlovas, ice-cream plus Christmas edibles of all varieties such as mince pies, fruit cake, shortbread, and chocolates etc.
Pinoys have traditional foods too! These Christmas dishes are usually served during Christmas Eve (Noche Buena), Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve (Medya Noche). The food that will never be gone on our tables are bibingka, roasted or fried chicken, tinola, litson, puto bungbong, queso de bola, sweet ham, and many more.
Since it is summer in Australia, Most town and cities conduct festivals and parades. Some places like local parks have fireworks display for families to watch and enjoy.
Christmas will begin with families attending a midnight mass. After the mass, a little sleep is attempted. For many, the children in various households wake up the family at dawn. Gifts are unwrapped and the joy of Christmas begins. For many with relatives and friends overseas, it is a mad scramble to get an early phone call to relatives worldwide.
In addition, many towns, cities and schools hold their own Carols by Candlelight services. As it is the middle of summer, the words to the carols about snow and the cold winter are sometimes changed to special Australian words.
Right after the Christmas day, Australia has a shopping day called the Boxing Day.It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price decreases. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue.
Philippines, on the other hand, is different. Its celebration of Christmas begins on the 16th of December where the Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi is happening, followed by the Noche Buena on Christmas eve, Misa de Aguinaldo on Christmas day, Medya Noche on New Year’s eve and ends on the first Sunday of January which is the Feast of the Epiphany or the Three Kings. It is quite different from the other countries. It is the longest of the Philippine festivities stretching for over 3 weeks. This makes the Filipino Christmas celebration one of the longest Christmas season in the world.
Truly, it’s Christmas at its best! The spirit of Christmas will always be in everyone’s hearts, whether the season is hot or cold. Two nations which may have the same or different way of celebrating the yuletide season, yet with one reason of celebration – the birth of our savior Jesus.
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