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If you are dating a beautiful lady from the Philippines and you plan to spend your first Christmas together in the country, then you have a lot to be excited about - just about as excited as an 8 year old on Christmas morn.
The only time the happiest time of the year can be made even happier is when you spend it with the people you love the most. And there is perhaps no other country on planet earth that celebrates the holidays more exuberantly than the Philippines.
Filipinos love their Christmas so much that they start playing Christmas songs on the first day of September. While this may confuse most people, it is mostly better to go along with it.
Every country that celebrates the season does so in their own unique style. Some countries celebrate Christmas in a purely secular fashion. Christian-dominant countries like the Philippines pay serious reverence to its religious essence. Therefore, it is always an educational experience to expose oneself to the ways and traditions of celebrating in another country.
However, let’s not forget the elephant in the room - what a special occasion it is to spend it with your Filipino lady. But if you think the holiday rush can be intense in your country, it may be just double that in the islands. She will most likely be involved in every single Christmas-related activity there is, and no doubt she will want you at her side every single step of the way.
So before you get caught off-guard and run out of juice before the New Year, here are 5 things you need to physically and mentally prepare for in the run-up to Christmas day:
It’s a known fact that Filipinos are a talented bunch. Any true-blooded Pinoy would swipe at the opportunity to grab a mic and belt out a tune. Christmas provides a perfect excuse to gather in groups, move from house to house, and sing the most beloved of Christmas carols.
Add to that a layer of philanthropy, such as raising funds for charity, and there’s practically no excuse for even the most tone-deaf to not get on board.
So start memorizing your lyrics and warm up those vocal cords. If there’s any time in the world to do some singing, it’s beside your Filipino girl and a dozen other merry choristers.
Party at the office. Party at church. Party at her mom’s, her uncle’s, her grandma’s, her 3rd cousins… You get the point. Come December, there will be no white spaces on that calendar. Every single weekend is fully booked, with every other Filipino getting in on the fun act of hosting their own Christmas party.
Each party is chalked full of games, singing, dancing, gift-giving, and obscene amounts of food. It’s the one time of year where gaining a full 2 inches on your waistline is not only forgivable, it’s encouraged.
So make sure you go on a fast two weeks prior, and build up your stamina for the whirlwind of non-stop parties to come.
You are most likely going to accompany your girlfriend and her family to Simbang Gabi, which is a nine-day devotional series of Catholic masses. Simbang Gabi translates literally to night mass, as it is celebrated as early as 3 or 5 o’clock in the morning. While it’s not how Christians celebrate Christmas in other countries, it is a deeply embedded practice in Philippine culture.
While the very thought of scarce sleep for 9 days may make you nervous, it is in actuality a beautiful, serene, and solemn event. The cool night’s wind blowing through the Christmas lit church makes it seem as if the world is at peace.
Whether or not this has any religious meaning to you, it is truly a beautiful moment to spend with your partner.
We all know Christmas is the time for gift giving. But in the Philippines, you may need to make your list almost as long as Santa’s. Family is a huge thing for Filipinos. So when the time for gift giving arrives, make sure that everyone is accounted for. Include all the aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews on your list. Put in a couple of slots for the best friends, and even the family pet.
You don’t need to spend too much money on gifts. As a matter of fact, Filipinos don’t mind the cost. What matters is thoughtful gift giving. Try to listen out for what they might need, even if it’s something as mundane as a handkerchief. It’s the thought that counts, and that goes a long way for Filipinos.
Filipinos enjoy exchanging gifts so much they do it in every group and subgroup they belong to. You can have an exchange of gifts among your coworkers, your church choir, your group of friends, and every other group you or your girlfriend belongs to.
Take advantage of the fact that you may need to do lengthy shopping sessions with your girlfriend. A lot of time is going to be spent, and you may be carrying a lot of bags by the day’s end. But you are going to bond so well when it’s all said and done.
At the end of the day, Christmas is about showing love. The best thing you can ever do for her during the season is to be with her. While Filipinos have this incredible sense of community, the most serene, peaceful, and meaningful time is reserved for the both of you.
While Christmas may have become more commercial than it was ever intended to be, Filipino women care about the heart and soul of the season. They care about being with their loved ones. They care about giving and bringing joy to others. They are the personification of Christmas in a cup if there ever was one.
While Christmas can lose its meaning in its own frenzy, do your best to keep focus. Focus on her, and wish for a thousand more Christmases to come.