In the US, there’s this long-standing friendly debate among family about when Christmas is allowed to start.

In my family, we start the day after Halloween. That’s when it’s acceptable to play Christmas music. Often my wife puts up her Christmas decorations in early November. This year has been a steady stream of decorating from November 3 up until about 2 weeks ago.

Other family members insist that you cannot start Christmas anything until December first. Christmas lights don’t go up. Christmas music doesn’t play. Nothing until December first.

I have a sister-in-law though who feels like she can listen to Christmas music any time of the year, and she does, sometimes.

In the Philippines, Christmas started in September.

Here are some cultural things around Christmas in the Philippines.

I like that the Christmas season in the Philippines starts early. As early as September. This is where the term ‘Ber months’ comes in. As soon as September 1 hits, you can expect Christmas songs playing on the radio and Christmas decorations being prepared for display. I’m a Halloween Grinch, so I don’t mind celebrating Christmas early.

I also like the solemnity of ‘Simbang Gabi,’ the night masses that Filipinos go to from December 16 to 24.

Filipinos put family first, so they ALWAYS spend Christmas and New Year with the family. It’s considered rude to spend it with friends. You can often tell there’s a family reunion nearby when you see a bunch of people wearing the same t-shirt. This is especially common on New Years Day.

Christmas is also when Filipinos visit their godparents (or their godchildren). There’s no guarantee you can get a gift from Santa, but you can always expect something from your godparents.

Employees from the Philippines are looking forward to receiving their extra salaries in the form of ‘13th Month‘ (as per the law in the Philippines) and ‘Christmas Bonus’ (this, in particular, would depend on the company’s prerogative). They would usually use these earnings to purchase or buy gifts or food for the upcoming Christmas Season.

With all the lead up, a number of things happen.
– Filipinos are super hesitant to start a new job from mid December through January 2.  they’re worried their new boss won’t let them spend Christmas/New Years with their family.
– They want to take time off.  Not that different than you, but for them there’s probably more family pressure.
– They’re a bit hesitant to tell you all of this because they don’t know your holiday traditions.