On my first year here in US, I find it weird how American celebrate Christmas, New Year, Halloween (All Saints Day) and Easter (Holy Week) as it is extremely different from what I was used to. I already talked about Holy Week and All Saints Day on my previous posts so this will focus on our Christmas tradition... or should I say on my family traditions back home.
Me and the rest of my siblings spend the above holidays at my parental house... by hook or by crook. Despite the fact that we work and live in Manila, we make it a point that we're home on those days as they mean a lot to us. In the Philippines, once the month ends with "ber", we already start putting up Christmas trees... LOL yes, as in as early as September, and our Christmas decorations are usually removed on January 6th or 7th or "Three Kings" day as we call it.
LANTERNS: Aside from the traditional tree, wreaths, and lights, we also hang "lanterns". Something that I haven't seen from any house here. Our province of Pampanga is well-known from its "lighted lanterns"... Those talented people are very busy all year round to produce colorful and one-of-a-kind products.
CAROLLERS: Our version of carollers is another extremely different from here. Usually after All Saints Day, you'll wake up at the middle of the night with the soothing voices of carollers. They could be young or old from other towns, who wants to earn extra but most of the time, they do it as a fundraising for their churches. What I enjoy listening to though are kids - ages 4-7 years old - from the neighborhood who wanna have some $$$ to buy candies. They're actually adorable thinking they has great voices... LOL We would tease them once in a while and request an extra song before we gift them some cash.
FIRECRACKERS: Yes, we have and hear them cracking prior New Year. Bulacan (province next to Pampanga) is our best source for various kind of firecrackers. We only use the user-friendly ones, but our neighbors use the loudest kinds. We have no choice but to enjoy the sound as it has been part of the Christmas spirit in our neighborhood.
MIDNIGHT MEAL: We usually eat dinner around 7:00PM (December 24th), but right after that and once the kitchen is clean, me and my sisters (sometimes my mother too) would start preparing the Christmas Eve feast so that by 11:30PM, our dining table is set with fabulous meal. By 11:45PM, we would wake up every member of the family who's asleep so we can all eat together. Our Christmas Eve meal though is not as festive as our New Year's Eve meal. And of course, by midnight, we would also pay respect to our parents by giving them a "MANO". It is by taking their right hand then put it in our forehead... it is just a quick gesture that means a lot to our olds... be it our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or any older people not related to us. Anyways, after the meal, we would open our gifts under the tree then take some family pictures. Some of my cousins would always knock on our door while we're still eating to give MANO to my parents, then we would ask one of them to take pictures of all of us. Oh, and they usually eat at our house too.:) We try to get some sleep when it's over to prepare for the big Christmas Day where a lot of kids are so excited about. We actually believe that Christmas is the day of gift-giving to kids while New Year is for the olds.
GODCHILDREN: Our household is filled of gifts during Christmas coz me and my siblings got the most godchildren in the neighborhood. Me alone has about 35 godchildren... LOL and each of them who will show up to give MANO to me recieve a gift. I seldom see my godchildren from Manila and other towns so I merely focus on the ones in my town. Usually around 7:00AM, my parental house is already filled with godchildren and neighbor's kids, not to mention my cousins and their kids. When a kid (aside from godchildren) gave you a MANO, it's a customary thing to give them soemthing in return... be it some candy or a lil' bit of cash. This is something that I want DH to experience in the near future. On his last visit on 2004, I happened to be a godmother to one of neighbor's daughter, then DH saw the entire process of christening and all.
I have so much more Christmas Traditions to share but I'll just do it before the month ends, along with our New Year's Day Traditions.
I hope everybody's having a great stitching day!