Don’t store away the Christmas tree just yet. Keep the virtual Christmas reunions coming. Let gifts continue to flow. December 25 marks only the start of a much-longer Christmas season!
A special message from the country’s leading Chinoy prelate
Amid the pandemic, when countless are forced to celebrate Christmas very differently than before, let us heed the words of our very own Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle. Cardinal Tagle, the Church’s leading Chinoy prelate, spent most of his year as a self-described Overseas Filipino Worker or OFW in the Vatican, sympathetic to the cause of fellow OFWs and migrants. Here’s what he said in his Christmas message:
My dear brothers and sisters, let us not pretend. Let us not try to save Christmas, the Christmas of our own making. The truth of the matter is Christmas will save us. The true spirit of Christmas will save us. Tuloy ba ang Pasko? My answer is a resounding ‘yes’! Let us welcome the true Christmas.
The tradition of octaves
The tradition of celebrating a great feast day for several days and weeks has its roots in Western history and many religions. The venerable tradition signifies the Nativity of Jesus Christ, a feast that many believe to be our salvation. It’s an event that celebrates God the Son taking on human flesh in order to live among us.
Moreover, in Catholic tradition, today, December 26, would be the second day of the Christmas octave. Octaves refer to the eight holy days that follow a major feast, with the feast itself counted as the first day.
Here’s where it gets interesting: the Christmas octave, which ends on January 1, is also filled with other major events.
For example, aside from being the second day of the Christmas octave, today marks the Feast of St. Stephen, regarded as the first martyr in Christianity. December 27 this year will be celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. January 1 marks the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Indeed, the immediate sequel feasts that follow December 25 reminds us that Christmas only begins on that day.
The octave also has some similarities with Chinese New Year or CNY and the Lantern Festival. The latter occurs 15 days after the former, and on those days in between, people continue to celebrate the festivities. Like Christmas, CNY celebrations don’t end on the day itself.
From a secular and even psychological point of view, celebrating Christmas beyond December 25 seems to be needed. After all, the world has gone through a lot this year. Why not keep the Christmas season going? Families come together, schools give their students much-needed recreation time, and gift-giving, especially to those in need, warms hearts. Is this not what the world needs a little more of today?
Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year to all!
The author of this article:
An accomplished young Chinese Filipino writer and media personality, Aaron S. Medina is associated with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program, the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, and CHiNOY TV. He has a passion for truth, justice, and Pokémon, too! Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.joseph.s.medina/