It’s the day before  Christmas

Published December 24, 2019, 12:11 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

It’s the day before Christmas  and all throughout the Christian world, people are looking forward to tomorrow. Actually, many Filipinos have been doing  this since September  1. There were even some who  began looking forward to the next Christmas  right after the season ended  with Three Kings in January. But  most truly began  observing Chistmas  with the Simbang Gabi  last December 16.

Christmas is one holiday we share with the vast Christian world around  the planet. We had 350 years  with Spain and nearly 50 years with America, and so today some 90 percent of the Philippine population is Christian.  They  share  in the  various traditions and   various ways  of celebrating Christmas, including Santa  Claus, Christmas trees, gift-giving,  festive music, and  lights.

There are so many bountiful  ways  of celebrating Christmas  that long before the day  itself comes,   the celebration  begins. The  enjoyment  reach a peak on the day before Christmas itself.  Then  in the closing hours of Christmas Eve,  the merriment  slowly gives  way to the realization that it is here.  Christmas is here. The day Jesus  was  born is here.

In Bethlehem, where it all happened  over 2,000 years ago, a procession will make its way  today, Christmas Eve,  ending at the threshold of the Orthodox Basilica of the Nativity. Inside the church is a passageway to a cave where it is believed  Christ was born.

Catholic services are being  today in the St. Catherine Church next to  the  Basilica. Christmas  Eve rites are celebrated by  various Christian churches in Bethlehem — in the Anglican Cathedral, the Lutheran Church of  the  Redeemer, various Protestant churches, Ethiopians, Armenians, and so many others. There are even special services in the shepherds’  fields, where  an  angel first announced  to the world the birth of Christ.

Among Western children, possibly the most  popular figure at Christmastime is Santa Claus, for he is the man  who  brings them  gifts. Possibly the most popular poem about Santa begins: “T’was  the night before Christmas, and all through  the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse …..”

Tonight is the night before Christmas  – Christmas Eve., December 24.  Eves  are celebrated for holidays that  are simply too big to be limited to one day. A week from  today, we have another one of those big  holidays, with  an eve so big that it has its own  celebration—New Year’s  Eve.

Tomorrow,  it will be Christmas Day,  the  truly big day  for the Christian world. Buy today, Christmas Eve will have  its own  celebration. The last of the nine Simbang Gabi  masses will be celebrated in churches all over the Philippines. Families will gather for traditional Noche Buena  dinners to night,  so that when the clock strikes  12,  they will  all be  together for  Christmas  Day.