How do OFWs celebrate Christmas?

Were you ever curious how our kababayans who live abroad celebrate Christmas Eve? We asked some of them, and here’s what they had to say.

 

Also Read: Serving Communities: Modern Filipino Heroes

 

JM Licardo, 25, Canada

JM Licardo (left) celebrating Christmas with his family in Canada.

 

How do you celebrate Christmas abroad?

We go to a friend’s or a relative’s house to eat and play games like Secret Santa. It’s like a mini get-together with all our relatives who live here. My cousins and I would also go to the park to stroll around and go tobogganing (snow sledding). But the biggest thing for us during Christmas Eve is the hot chocolate or hot latte that is served in a nearby coffee shop. We drink it before dinner to warm up our stomachs.

 

What do you miss the most about Christmas in the Philippines?

I really miss the months-long Christmas celebrations in the Philippines. Here in Canada, we only get to feel the Christmas vibe during the month of December. But in the Philippines, people start to get excited for the season in as early as September. I especially miss the Christmas songs that are being played anywhere we go in the Philippines. It is not like that here in Canada. We only get to listen to Christmas music when we’re at home.

 

Mon Caraan, 44, Germany

 

How do you celebrate Christmas abroad?

Christmas celebrations for Filipinos who work abroad really depend on how integrated one is with the locals. In my case, I got to spend a few Christmases with other expats, some with locals, and others with the Pinoy community. Christmas with expats is usually celebrated in bars or outdoors, with major firework displays serving as the highlight of the night. For those Christmases that I spent with the locals, we usually celebrate it with their families at home. In these cases, celebrations are usually quiet but very much cultural. But the most fun of all are those Christmas Eves that I spent with the Pinoy community. It was during those times that I really felt nostalgic of the special bonding with Pinoys, particularly the food, Christmas carols, and of course, karaoke.

 

What do you miss the most about Christmas in the Philippines?

I miss my family, of course. In the Philippines we also give and receive lots of Christmas presents. But above all, what’s really unique in our country is the cheerfulness of anyone we meet, whether they are familiar faces at home or strangers we bump into on the streets.

 

Also Read: Have a Merry Christ-mas!

 

Tiffany Lasquite, 25, Singapore

 

How do you celebrate Christmas abroad?

Since I am a nurse, I am usually on duty during those days. But even though we have work on Christmas Eve, we also have a mini Noche Buena in the ward. We invite our co-workers, even those who have different beliefs, to join in on the celebration. We have pancit, fried chicken, lumpiang shanghai, the usual food served during Noche Buena in the Philippines. After that, we go back to work.

 

What do you miss the most about Christmas in the Philippines?

Long vacation! I am always at work here during the holidays, I long for rest days and bonding moments with family and friends. It is going to be my third year celebrating the holidays here in Singapore and while it might be fun to have my workmates and roommates around during these dates, iba pa rin when you’re with your family and childhood friends.

 

Grace Evaristo, 37, Germany

Grace Evaristo (center, in blue) celebrating with Filipino friends in Hamburg, Germany.

 

How do you celebrate Christmas abroad?

I’m lucky because I usually go home to my family in the Philippines for the Christmas holidays. My Mom and I would always make sure to complete the nine-day Simbang Gabi and attend the midnight mass on December 24. Then we would go home to have our simple Noche Buena, give out gifts, and rest.

 

What do you miss the most about Christmas in the Philippines?

What I miss in the Philippines is the Christmas culture and tradition. I love going out and hearing Christmas carols in the streets, seeing Christmas lights everywhere, and eating puto bumbong and bibingka! But what I especially miss if I am away is spending the season with my family and attending the early morning Simbang Gabi.

 

Also Read: Jose Mari Chan Tells the Story Behind “Christmas In Our Hearts”

Text by Aizel Dolom and Yen Cantiga. Photos from Unsplash and Facebook.
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