Generally optimistic, most Filipinos see hope and readily shift to a lighter disposition whenever September 1 appears on the calendar. The day opens the four-month season of festivities amidst a cooler temperature for this tropical country, albeit also a season of typhoons and floods.
For the superstitious, especially among the Chinese-Filipino community, the end of August also signifies the conclusion of the “ghost month” during which new business ventures are postponed and stock market transactions slow down, with investors and retail traders staying on the sidelines and waiting for better times.
Jointly referred to as the “ber” months because of their names’ common ending, the four months of September, October, November and December come with the anticipation of the Christmas holidays, which generally means an upside in our consumer-driven economy.
September marks the beginning of the autumn equinox in the Philippines, when the sun is directly over the equator, thus making the length of the day and night equal to 12 hours each. As the Christmas season nears, the night becomes longer than the day, thus in the pre-COVID-19 pandemic days, Filipinos enjoy more nighttime fun activities such as parties, drinking and karaoke sessions.
The last quarter of the year is when malls and department stores experience a surge in sales, with many Filipinos going on a buying spree of personal gifts, clothes, shoes, gadgets, home appliances and food. This traditionally Filipino behavior is bolstered by the fact that more than 10 million workers are employed abroad, and these OFWs send more dollar or other foreign currency remittances at about this time. These workers also time their vacation leaves to return to the Philippines and reunite with their families during the Christmas season.
Proud to be the only Christian country in the Far East, the Philippines boasts of having the longest Christmas season in the world — from the “ber” months to the first week of January, when the Epiphany or Feast of the Three Kings is celebrated.
Worthy of mention too is that fact that the end of this season, December, is traditionally the month with the most number of weddings for Filipinos. We surmise that many couples choose December for their marriage for two practical reasons: the cold January weather is conducive to a memorable honeymoon and a decision to marry at the end of the year usually affirms one’s personal conviction to take the plunge.
The ongoing public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will surely suppress the usual resplendence of the “ber” months, but the continuous PH-wide mass vaccination and observance of health protocols, along with the fact that Filipinos are still conscious that September 1 is here, reassures every one that the “ber” months have arrived bringing hope and good tidings for the nation.