Top Five Misconceptions of Christmas

FEU Advocate
December 25, 2017 18:41

Twinkling lights, festive gatherings, and the undying Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in our hearts” on repeat are only a fraction of how some Tamaraws would describe the typical Filipino celebration of Christmas.

From jam-packed malls filled with last-minute shoppers to family reunions, it is undeniable that for most Filipinos the Christmas celebration is an inherent tradition. But amidst all the expenses, month-long merriment, and glistening ornaments that this occasion brings, one must always be in the picture ― the real reason behind this season.

Here are the top five misconceptions that people usually get during the Christmas season:

1. Fancy Gifts

From the swooshing sounds of swiping credit cards to the bargain-filled streets of Divisoria, no one can deny that giving gifts has long been etched in the way Filipinos celebrate Christmas.

While many relate the season with feelings of brimming glee, kindness and generosity, some take the consumption of gifts to a higher pedestal that it cloaks the more genuine purpose as to why the occasion is celebrated.

But for Cyreel Candidato, a 4th year Medical Technology student, gift-giving does not entirely shift people’s attention from the true meaning of Christmas, but it is rather a part of the essence conveyed by the celebration.

“Personally, as cliché as it sounds, I do believe that the reason for this season has been and will continue to be the birth of Jesus Christ. We can celebrate with so much joy and giving because we know that we were first given and blessed with the greatest gift of all, the gift of salvation and eternal life,” she said.

No jaw-dropping price tag of a certain bag, shoes, or phone one will receive can ever surmount the greatest gift of all that has been long given several eras ago.

Reconnecting to the sole purpose of Christmas through commemorating and thanking God for all the blessings throughout the year is the key. No matter how big or small, how expensive or cheap, the intention behind the gesture is the real price.

2. Feast like no other

It is that time of the year! A big heart for festive feasts and howling celebrations are what Filipinos are popular for. Tables are filed with various platters of different cuisine, unlimited pots of rice and the sweetest desserts; serving the best for the season has been a part of our culture for many years, but do we really have to?

Danica Claire Cruzado, a 3rd year Communication student, whose family had undergone a financial setback from a business collapse years ago, carries the lesson of only spending money on the needs rather than the wants in life. This in return has made her appreciate the important things such as the presence of family which no amount of gold could ever amount to.

"Kahit na sobrang hirap nung pinagdaanan namin noon, nairaos parin namin ‘yung pasko at bagong taon nang masaya kasi sama-sama... doon din namin na-realize na kahit anong pinagdaanan namin mas madami pa ring magagandang dapat ipagpasalamat sa Diyos (Even though we were faced with trials, we still chose to celebrate Christmas and the new year with joy because we were together as a family... that's when we realized that no matter how hard the circumstances we faced, the good things that God has given will always be enough for us to be thankful)," she shared as she recalled the rough patch that their family had gone through.

In the end, it is not the long tables delightfully lined up with plates and bowls of delicious dishes that measure the success of one’s celebration. One can always find contentment with their celebration either through a lavish dinner or simple lunch as long as they are able to sit down, share stories and create memories with loved ones.

3. “Samahan ng malalamig ang Pasko

The Christmas season naturally calls for cuddle weather. For the hearts that have been pierced by Cupid’s arrows, this is the ripest time to be with their significant other but for those with lonely hearts this is a pure torture! Or is it?

Like the yearly comeback of Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” song on radios during the Christmas season, the culture of “Samahan ng malalamig ang Pasko” (SMP) bounces up each year. While happy couples paint the city lights with love as they spice up the usual selfies with smooches under the mistletoe, it is understandable for some to feel a sense of longing to have a significant other. With the weather being chillier than normal, the SMP club cannot help but want to desire that warmth one has when in love.

The same can’t be said for Maurich Macatangay, a 3rd year Communication student, as his family’s love is more than enough to make him feel complete when celebrating the holiday season.

“Never ko naramdaman na member ako ng SMP. Kasi init lang ng pagmamahal ng pamilya ko is enough na para masabi kong buo ang pasko ko (I never felt like a member of SMP. Because for me, the warmth of my family’s love is enough for me to say that my Christmas is complete),” he shared.

Those experiencing the single-bells status with sad thoughts about being “alone” on Christmas season should find solace that they are never alone, as they can always count on family and friends to keep them warm during the season of giving.

4. Aguinaldos from godparents

Christmas won’t feel like the real yuletide season without the much anticipated "aguinaldo" or “pamasko”. The chosen ninongs and ninangs who lit the candle during that one Baptism day - solemnly promising second guardianship -suddenly turn into Santa Claus during the festive season as their godchildren wait for the long-awaited gifts.

They say a long list of ninongs and ninangs is equal to bigger gifts and larger amounts of crisp paper bills. It is no wonder godparents are really the “most wanted” folks during Christmas season. Aside from being vigorously sought and bombarded by their godchildren’s lengthy wish lists, one must remember that ninongs and ninangs also stand as second parents to them.

Kecey Mae De Guzman, a 3rd Year BS Psychology student, believes that godparents play an important role in our lives apart from being the go-to people for gifts.

Sila ‘yung pwede mag-guide sa atin sa life kung wala ‘yung parents natin para gawin ‘yun,” she said. “For me, wala naman silang special roles for Christmas since ‘andyan sila for guidance not for giving money. Their role is to guide when we need guidance. Pamasko is just a bonus.” (They are the ones who could guide us in life in case our parents can’t be there to do it. For me, they don’t have special roles for Christmas since they are in our lives for guidance and not for giving money. Their role is to guide when we need guidance. Pamasko is just a bonus.”).

Treating godparents like piggybanks instead of actual people that play a vital role in our lives has led many to misunderstand the true value that they possess. They do have the word “parent” in their titles after all.

5. Custom of Celebrating Together

Eyes beaming brightly upon sight of much-missed relatives; tight and long hugs that seem to last forever; loud, elated “How are you?” that seem to contain a hidden “I love you!”; and a hearty feast cooked by each family member. It is truly evident that the celebration of Christmas in the country is a major family event.

But in reality not all families could keep up with this custom of celebrating together as there are families who may have a member working far away from home, a member on duty, whose parents are separated, or may have even experienced a recent loss.

In order to give a tinge of strength to those who face the same situation as him, Ronald Tan, a 2nd year BS Psychology student shared, "Instead na mag-expect na may pumunta na mas close relatives, mag-celebrate na lang kung sino 'yung nandun, malapit sa'yo.” (Instead of expecting for close relatives to come, let’s celebrate with those who are there, those who are near with us.”)

Those who are unfortunate to not be able to celebrate the most wonderful occasion of the year complete with all their loved ones should know that they still have every right and reason to still celebrate Christmas. Despite the miles or stratum of skies or layers of worlds that separates you from home, keep in mind that home is not a place and home is not a person but home is already there with you, in your heart.

At the end of the day, Christmas is a time to welcome and give thanks to the things that we are grateful to have in our lives. Whether it be celebrating because of the birth of Jesus Christ, wanting to be surrounded by loved ones, or simply having the need to give back the love that others shared with you, Christmas will always play an important role in the lives of Filipinos.

-Alyanna Delorino and Mikah Mabutol