How to spend your
Tropical Christmas in the Philippines
I can recall from my days in England, watching television at Christmas and seeing
how others celebrated across the world. At one time I used to think about people in Australia, who seemed to be
featured on the news every Christmas Day: "it's not like Christmas, hot weather and going to the beach".
Christmas in the Philippines
Why I used do think like that I really do not know. I did not like the cold once I
got past the age of about 30. Or was it 35? Who cares, I hate the cold now. That's one of the many reasons I live
in what many call paradise: Palawan, in the south west of the Philippines.
|Whether you spend
your Christmas in the Philippines or other tropical destination, you will find many Christmas
traditions practised like elsewhere, including nativity
Being a predominantly Christian country, Christmas is a big occasion in the
Philippines. It is also still a religious occasion, which of course it should be. Only a tiny percentage of people
can afford gifts, so the emphasis is on family
holidays, time together, and for many going to church. Very few families
have anything special for Christmas lunch, they just don't have the money. They do make up for it, though, as
Filipinos certainly know how to enjoy themselves.
Despite the lack of money in most families, Christmas starts early in the stores,
around August. One thing they go in for in a big way here is Christmas lights. Sometimes even the poorest homes
will be adorned with fairy lights, some having quite spectacular displays. Even in early November last year, as I
travelled back from the jungle's edge about 90km south, it was quite magical to see the Christmas lights as we got
near the city.
Christmas Trivia in The
My first Christmas in the country was memorable. I was invited to a girlfriend's
house Christmas Eve, a very poor but very friendly neighbourhood with mostly small timber houses cramped next to
each other; intimate to say the least. Outside in the garden (a tiny yard) there were lights everywhere, set up for
the party that would last all evening and into the night. I remember sitting there as they got everything organised
around me, how magical and special it all was.
|Spending Christmas time in a tropical paradise, like
the Philippines will be a memorable one, that will have you coming back for yet another tropical
Christmas, year after
Just a few months earlier I had been a resident in England and had only
experienced Christmas in England. Now, I was sitting outside on a hot Christmas Eve, the sound of tropical insects
a prelude to the modern disco music that was to follow later. I loved it.
For tropical Christmas, Santa Claus also gets appropriately dressed.
As with most occasions in the Philippines, there were lots of children. Neighbours
came and went, people moved from one party to another, and there was a constant flow of people and especially
Children's games were followed later by adult versions of children's games, most
of which had come from Western influence, but Filipinos always put their own stamp on the foreign habits they
adopt. Alcohol would not have been a part of the occasion, but the adults were delighted when I offered to buy beer
FireworksAt midnight, I was advised to go inside. I soon
saw why. All hell broke lose with fireworks as midnight approached, exploding from every tightly packed, confined
little garden in the neighbourhood. Fireworks that would have been banned in the UK, but I have to admit they were
very loud and impressive. I was amazed, as nobody had warned me of this tradition beforehand.
Now, all my Christmases are tropical, and very different from those in England. I
sometimes wonder how much Christmas would change here if it ever became a wealthy country. The major differences
between here and England are the profligate spending and materialism in England, and the normal subdued spending in
the Philippines. Yet, it is the Filipinos who seem more able to enjoy it that the English.