If one didn’t know any better, you would think it was Halloween all over again… this time though, without the scary costumes. Christmas day in the Philippines is unlike Christmas day in the west, where children will wake up especially early and rush to the Christmas tree where Santa typically leaves their gifts during the darkness of night. Here in the Philippines, for most children anyway, Santa does not bring gifts while the children sleep. Santa typically does not make house calls here (unless one is considered privileged). Maybe some children think it is because Santa is too busy or maybe Rudolph doesn’t know the way. In all actuality, it is because most people are too poor to spurge on presents for all the children. And in reality, it is customary with many families to gather for a dinner feast on Christmas Eve, partying until the midnight celebration of baby Jesus’ arrival. I mean Santa couldn’t possible sneak in to the millions of homes in the Philippines while everyone was still awake, could he?
During a recent attempt at defending Santa’s non-appearance here in the Philippines, I mustered up at least three valid reasons why he cannot bring presents to the many children here in this land. It was during this explanation to our 4-year old grand niece where she cut me short and had to inform me that Santa had already come to her school, bringing her a gift as well as all her friends.That made my defense of Santa’s non-appearance much easier… Because all the houses are so small and so close together, Santa couldn’t possible land that big ‘ol sleigh with all those reindeer on the roof. And besides, nipa roofs were not so strong to hold big ‘ol mataba Santa! No, he waits until all the kids are gathered together to make his appearance. Santa is just that smart! Upon completion of my justifications, she nodded and happily smiled in agreement with me.
Around the Philippines, just like in our neighborhood, there are usually fireworks and other noise making celebrations in the streets until well after midnight. Personally, I don’t stay awake any longer to wait for the New Year to roll in, nor do I stay awake for the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. I’m at that point in life where I eat, do some relaxing, then go to bed. I need my beauty sleep!
The next morning however, it is time for many children to don their nicest clothes and prettiest dresses, to go door-to-door throughout the neighborhood in the hopes of scoring a gift of candy from their friends and neighbors. My wife usually buys a shopping cart full of snacks and candies for the occasion and she will spend hours bagging it all up to present to all of our Christmas day visitors. Nobody misses our house… and some are brave enough to come twice! But that’s okay, it is all in the spirit of giving, right?
Some will wear their prettiest dresses.
While others wear the best they have.
They go house to house for handouts.
But some guys just wanna help themselves!
Season’s Greetings from Retired In Samar!