No, you’re not reading the title wrong. Yes, it is September first and I’m making a Christmas reference… but that’s because in the Philippine Christmas season officially starts today! I have this foggy recollection of about two months ago, during a cultural training session, of someone saying that Christmas is celebrated throughout the ‘brr‘ months. In my head I heard ‘brr‘, as in it’s cold and therefore we celebrate Christmas (yes, I did wonder why they called them the brr months when it doesn’t get cold here). But really, as I found out today, the brr months are the ‘-ber’ months: September, October, November, and December (seems obvious, right?)!
So today, September 1st, during the van ride to language class we heard Christmas music on the radio! I felt like a red and green string of light bulbs went off around my head, as I pondered what else the pre-Christmas, Christmas-season entails here. When I finally got home today, I asked my family about the holiday season at dinner. They did confirm that the season started today and lasts throughout the -ber months, possibly the longest Christmas season that exists worldwide. Aside from Christmas songs on the radio, we can expect Christmas decorations in stores, and people to start putting up lights in October. Also, some will start counting down the days until Christmas already (in case you’re wondering now, it’s 114).
Anyway, that’s my dosage of Filipino culture for this week! Right now, we Peace Corps Trainees are at another pivotal moment… we have just under a week left before we leave our training site for Manila for final site preparations, a work-partner conference (where we meet our counterpart for the next two years) and swearing-in at the US Embassy! We’re busy preparing a goodbye party for our host families (tissues recommended), wrapping up local language training, and preparing to pack and ship ourselves all around the country! I have a couple of blogs in the works… one about food and another about the wonderful people I’ve called my family for the fast two months, that’ll be up before I head to Manila… in the meantime, thanks for reading and Merry Christmas (yes, I checked, I can say that now!