Being used to spending Christmas in the Philippines would make a person express awe at the different environment that may be encountered in Europe. Indeed, there is no comparison to the long tradition that the Philippines have practiced over the past decades. It is a combination of European and North American plus Filipino cultures that make Christmas a really memorable event for many families.
It is pretty much the same in other countries. Christmas in predominantly Christian or Catholic countries are dominated by feasts and exchange of gifts. It is by far the only holiday in many countries that places Jesus Christ in the centre of the celebrations. For the politically correct, sometimes, Christmas becomes “X” mas – which somehow losses some of its early Christian origins but nonetheless provides the bridge for different faiths to bond.
Winter is central to any celebration of Christmas, since it is the season that prevails during those days. It is common to experience zero to minus degrees Celsius in any ordinary day. From Western Europe, there prevail higher temperatures (0° to -12° Celsius) due to the Gulf Stream. If the Stream does not exist, then Europe would have winter most times of the year. As one goes to the East towards Germany, Eastern Europe and the Russian steppes, temperatures could very well get uncomfortable at (-40°) degrees Celsius.
Like the Filipinos, Europeans spend time with their families. At least those who choose to spend their holidays at home. Many though, leave the cold in Europe and go touring in Africa or Asia. It is not uncommon to see families having fun and celebrating in their gardens – pretty much like here, for those which have an extra plot in their homes or condos.
There is a dark side though during the holidays. While poverty ravages the Philippines regardless of the season and time of the year, in Europe the few homeless people or elderly living alone sometimes suffer from depression or die due to the extreme cold. In France, the social welfare department often invites (or forces) the homeless to occupy abandoned subway stations with heaters. Some who don’t make it can be seen sleeping covered in blankets and cartons beside heater exhausts of buildings.
Despite this, Christmas remains to be the world’s attempt to rejuvenate and have happy times with family. This tradition, may be different across countries, have the same meaning to everyone.#