Have a Prosperous Holidays this 2019 with Blend PH
Christmas is probably the most important holiday of the year for most Filipinos. We celebrate the season the longest anywhere in the world and we hold the biggest celebrations imaginable. We prepare for it with a much anticipation. We start hearing “Christmas in Our Hearts” as soon as the “-ber” months kick in and we tend to find ourselves doing shopping marathons until midnight in the well-lit malls across the metro to find the perfect gifts for our loved ones.
The Christmas holidays are extra special to us for reasons beyond consumerism, though. Majority of Filipinos find this time significant because of our strong affinity with Christianity, with over 80% of the population following the religion. It’s during these times when our values and traditions revolving around love, peace, harmony, and charity come in full swing.
It’s when the whole family is complete. OFWs are expected to come home and reunite with those left behind. It’s when we usually hold reunions and re-live the camaraderie we enjoyed with friends from every stage of our lives. It’s when we participate in charitable activities like gift-giving, outreach programs, fundraising balls, and the like. The concept of giving more than receiving is at the center of each celebration.
People across the country celebrate it differently, but there is definitely a long list of activities and traditions observed extensively. Here are some of them:
- Attending the Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo. A series of nine pre-dawn masses that start at 4 AM of December 16th and culminate during the early morning of Christmas Eve. It would be safe to say that this is when the formal Christmas festivities start.
- Eating Bibingka and Puto Bumbong after the Simbang Gabi. Mass attendees – usually families and groups of friends – gather outside the church to partake in these native delicacies that double as their breakfast. Bibingka is a steamed yellow cake usually made with rice flour sprinkled with caramelized sugar and topped with salted egg, while Puto Bumbong is a purple sticky rice dish cooked in bamboo tubes and made yummier with butter, shredded coconut, and brown sugar. Both are heated over charcoal fire, which make them even more traditional. They are usually paired with hot drinks such as Spanish-style chocolate (Tsokolate de Batirol) for the warm fuzzies.
- Setting up the Belen and the Parol. These are traditional Christmas decorations found in every Filipino home. The Belen depicts the nativity scene – Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in a manger surrounded by animals, plus the three magi bearing their gifts. The parol, meanwhile, is a type of Christmas lantern that represents the star of Bethlehem. While Christmas trees, Santa-style decorations, and Christmas lights abound during the season, the two decorations remain most symbolic.
- Merrymaking and singing Christmas carols. Young children go from house to house to sing a medley of Christmas carols accompanied by makeshift musical instruments such as drums that come from discarded tin cans or soda bottle caps flattened and stringed in a wire to form a tambourine. Homeowners are expected to reward carolers with coins after their performance.
- Participating in a Kris Kringle. It’s a form of exchanging a series of small gifts anonymously, and often culminates in giving a “bigger” gift to the giftee during the Christmas party. It usually involves picking a codename and developing the discipline not to reveal your identity. This is the Pinoy’s answer to Secret Santa, commonly practiced by people in big families, offices, and schools.
- Giving or receiving Aguinaldo. This involves the traditional giving or receiving monetary gifts. The godparents or elderly relatives are expected to give children their Aguinaldo or face the consequence of getting hounded for not giving it or forgetting about it altogether for years or even decades for some.
- Sharing Noche Buena and Media Noche with loved ones. People tend to regard these two as the “main events” of the entire festivities. People are dressed in their best clothes, while children are exhibiting their best behaviors because they expect to receive gifts from the older people. It’s when the family holds a feast – there’s a spread of the most delightful dishes like lechon (whole roasted pig), colorful fruits, desserts, and several other family favorites.
Because it only happens once a year, Filipino go all out whenever Christmas comes. We only want to give out the best gifts and serve only the best-tasting food to our family and friends. Given this mindset, it’s only obvious that Christmas is expensive. Along with the happiness that the season brings, there’s also much pressure about how much you can spend and how you can budget your money without breaking the bank or putting yourself knee-deep in debt.
We’re sharing with you a few tips you can follow on how not to overspend this coming Christmas:
- Don’t shower people with gifts you can’t afford. Don’t get easily carried away by the sales you see left and right. For instance, if your child wants to get a bike for Christmas, you can always get a cheaper model especially when you know that they’ll grow out of it.
- Homemade or handmade gifts are more heartfelt. Reasonable people would appreciate if you give them something you worked hard on. A crocheted hat? Check! Spicy tuyo in a jar? We’ll take it! Use your craft skills or domestic skills to make things more exciting – remember that it’s not always about the value. Nothing wrong with adding your personal touch. Your giftee might even be touched or thrilled when they find out how much effort went into your gift.
- A Christmas shopping list is always helpful. Create an Excel spreadsheet of your expenses during this season. List down the names of the people you’re giving gifts to and have something definite in mind about what you’ll be giving them. This helps you avoid overspending and makes shopping less stressful.
- Don’t get lured by Christmas hampers available in most supermarkets and groceries. If you want to give out gifts in kind, it’s way cheaper to buy the items separately and then package them yourself.
- Don’t buy too much food for the main event. Food wastage is a huge problem in times like these, so make sure you’re only getting enough. Don’t buy a dozen of every kind of round fruit and make them rot afterwards. Buy a few pieces of each kind enough for consumption if you truly want to follow the belief that 12 round fruits on the table bring good luck. Or, instead of spending money on specials for alcohol that will only end up on the display rack for the next year or so, it’s better to spend the money on something else.
- Plan ahead and buy in advance. Keep an eye out for items that won’t get bad right away. For example, the classic Christmas ham skyrockets in price around November and December, but you can usually find them in stores as early as September and October. This way, you can start building up your Christmas inventory or must-haves even months before getting your 13th month pay or bonus.
- Beware of enticing credit card deals. A lot of major retailers offer 0% interest or pay later schemes on credit card transactions, but all it does is lure you into spending more money. Paying 0% interest doesn’t sound nearly as good when you’re just figuring out that you didn’t need to buy that karaoke machine in the first place.
- If budget is tight, don’t be afraid to pull some strings. Short-term loan products and personal loans such those offered by Blend PH can help you enjoy the season without much impact to your finances. With our affordable and manageable personal loans, for instance, you won’t be able to take out money which you can’t afford to pay back because of our stringent screening process. It’s always best when you know you can put forward some solutions on having extra cash for unexpected expenses such as the ones you’ll incur come Christmastime.
Spending money during Christmas is inevitable. It only makes sense to go through the all the festivities within your budget. With a little bit of planning and extra hard work, you can enjoy the season to the fullest. After all, Christmas is all about spending time – not money – with those you love and celebrating the birth of a precious gift called Jesus.