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Christmas Ambience 101

Yes, almost everything can be found online. My older brother joked that I should get a certificate from Google. Well, when you choose the materials- from the videos and articles -you, subsequently, enjoy what you are busy with and it is well-deserved and time well-spent.

Did you know that I was able to complete a Christmas Lantern because of a YouTube tutorial? Indeed. I could still remember how to make the body of it, however, I could not recall how to make the tail. Good thing there are many videos about that topic on YouTube. Voila! A renaissance after more or less forty years since graduating from elementary. The nostalgic practical arts project brought back joyful childhood memories.

My late mother hung the original project of mine near the old piano. Perhaps, we were programmed when we we young. We were conditioned about Christmas. Santa Claus? Advent wreath? Simbang gabi? Misa de gallo? Belen? Carols? Exchange gifts? Noche Buena? Media Noche? Fireworks? Jumping, polka dots, well-lit house, cash under pillows, a collection of lucky-round-fruits- all these on New Year’s Eve?

There are many more myriad manifestations of the Yuletide. Beliefs to beckon bountiful blessings. The Philippines is a Christian Country, mostly 80 percent or more are Roman Catholic, understandably, we have every privilege to greet one another a Merry Christmas. In the English language only though. Why? Well, in Tagalog we say Maligayang Pasko! The word Pasko came from Pascua from the Spanish Language.

The pronounced nuance and subtlety is: people assert that one should say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays because Christ is in Christmas. That would work in a more diversified and multicultural country. In the Philippine context, the next significant religious group is the Muslim part of the population. When they have holidays, we greet our Muslim brothers and sisters appropriately. In the same manner they greet us according to our holidays.

Now, to shed light on the matter further, when we use Tagalog or other Native languages the name of Our Lord Jesus is not mentioned. It gets interesting later. But wait, as mentioned earlier Pasko is from Pascua. Spaniards greet each other Feliz Navidad or Felices Pascuas. The latter is similar to Happy Holidays. Pascua means Holy. Holiday comes from Holy Day. To be crystal clear, one greets someone Feliz Pascua de Navidad.

This is more felt in the Bikol language. We say Maogmang Kamundagan for Feliz Navidad which means absolutely the same. Now, the interesting tidbit- also, in the Bikol language we say Dios Mabalos for Thank You! So, this may be the only greeting of gratitude that has God in it. Spanish has muchas gracias which means many graces; and Tagalog has maraming salamat which means many thanks.

To put it simply, Dios Mabalos means God will repay you for every act of goodness, act of kindness, or any act of love that you have shown to me. In The City of Naga during the Holiday Season we celebrate the Kamundagan Festival. There are many activities inline with the Christmas festivities such as Christmas carols, concerts and numerous contests.

Along the Panganiban Drive, there would be different presentations of the Nativity Scenes. Every Barangay of the city participates in the competition. The Plaza Rizal and Plaza Quezon would be opulently decorated and lighted. Many guests come to these parks to stroll, promenade, basically, enjoy the ambience. Numerous photo opportunities are taken during these times. The children, absolutely, love them.

Finally, there are also Parol-making-contests. A few years back, I saw the ingenuity of participating contestants. They reused old waste products, like plastic bottles, cups, among other things. The finished products were awe-inspiring. Personally, the best Parol there is would be the one we have- handcrafted by my own late father a very long time ago. My older brother modified it to last a lifetime by using cloth instead of paper. And, every year I do a hack which is to use Christmas garlands for the ring of the star. Voila! The Star of Peace- a work of art according to my other brother.

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