On the Dissonance of Holidays


Ah, the Philippine -ber season begins: a period of festive derangement whose schizophrenia is best exemplified by the sight of jack o’lanterns jostling against fir trees in the window displays of—fittingly enough—bookstores.

Adding to the sheer inanity of the entire affair is the fact that both pumpkins and foliage alike are made of matching plastic (most likely sourced from the exotic land of China from where it is safe to assume neither Halloween nor Christmas originate).*

And let’s not forget the display of memorial cards in the stands across the aisle.

It’s all par for the course in the Philippines, really, a country that takes an inordinate amount of pride in the amalgamation of things (e.g., a local dessert called halo-halo, a football team called the Azkals). It may have to do with our origins as a nation. After all, the political unity that’s assembled 7,107 islands (in high tide) into a collective was never an organically-developed one—so it makes perfect sense if we’ve evolved into syncretists rather than synthesists.**

If the above theory doesn’t hold water, then we can choose to attribute the jarring synchronicity of at least three different holidays to the very Filipino fondness for Christmas—an affection that’s effectively transformed a two-week holiday into a four-month marathon (crowding every other coincident celebration as a result).

Whichever explanation you choose, it doesn’t change the fact that September has started and that the Christmas season has therefore “unofficially” begun.

Let the craziness begin.

* This is admittedly a curious oversight on the part of the Chinese who have been credited for inventing almost everything from compasses and toothbrushes to papermaking and printing. A few overblown holidays seem infinitely easier by comparison.

** Although to be fair, perhaps few (if any) existing political unities are the result of real organic development—if by organic we mean the slow, almost leisurely, accretion of things. For the most part, historically speaking, a political unity exists because someone—with the biggest sword or the biggest army—says so.

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