ON THE ROAD TO:
A CHRISTMAS IN JAPAN
Once upon a time, when mankind was so engrossed in the world of pleasures and materialism, a legendary figure was created out of two characters: St. Nicholas, a 4th century bishop who is patron saint of sailors, pawnbrokers and children and the other one was a thin mischievous spirit who encouraged merrymaking, dancing and drinking and in the 19th century, the Dutch settlers in North America began to call St. Nicholas, SantaClaus. Santa's red robe is that of the bishop's but the sled and reindeers originated from Scandinavian Christmas myths. Among the Roman Catholics, the crib in the Nativity scene became a feature at churches since 1224. St. Francis of Assissi asked the Pope's permission to celebrate Christmas by recreating the nativity scene creating a more solemn touch in the true meaning of Christmas. Since then, Christmas was never without the chubby and lovable figure clad in red robes, coming out of the chimney, filling up the stockings with gifts. But for adults, Santa Claus symbolizes the kindness and warmth in every one of which all human beings are capable of doing.
Filipinos, on the other hand, have embraced the traditional celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus with the "Panunuluyan", the "Simbang Gabi", "the Misa de Gallo” and Noche Buena. In addition to these, some families prepare for a surprise visit from Sta. Claus not only to give gifts but to give a little sermon to kids who weren't obedient that year. And the main event is usually a visit to Ninongs and Ninangs ( godfathers and godmothers ) to play real life Santas to their godchildren (inaanak) unless they are out of town or simply nagtatago!
The first Christmas I spent in Japan was the loneliest I could recall. Although I decorated the house with a Christmas tree, blinking lights and stayed up until midnight, still, many things were missing … the Noche Buena: table laden with embutido, arroz valenciana, ham and queso de bola, leche flan, ube, the Monito- Monita, and most of all my parents, brothers and sisters in the Philippines. As we ate a Christmas cake my husband bought, tears rolled down in my eyes. My eldest son was born the next year. I added more Christmas decors in the house. This time I tried not to remember how lonely I was during the Christmas of last year. I learned how to make my mother's arroz valenciana and my father's embutido. We also wanted to go to church but my mother-in-law stopped us saying that it was too cold for the baby. Again, I was lonely that Christmas and in the succeeding years.
When my 2nd and 3rd son were born one after the other, I made sure no one will feel lonely. I decorated the Christmas tree and we also bought a life sized Santa and aside from the embutido and Arroz Valenciana, we had karaage and sushi, then called my family via overseas call!
But as the years went by, some Catholic Churches began to hold "Simbang Gabi. Fr. Mario Colina, with the assistance of some Pinoys like Consul Senen Mangalile also served
Filipino dishes after the mass. The churches then became the Center of the Simbang Gabi, where many Filipinos spending Christmas away from loved ones will never be lonely.
In a way , I also realized that as years go by Christmas after Christmas, New
Year after New Year, we tend to let go of material things and instead seek for
pleasures in life that we can keep and go back to whenever we please because those Christmas memories are stored in our hearts !!! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!!!
Christmas Events in Kansai:
Nov. 24 - Yagi Filipino Community 5:30 pm
Pre-Christmas Disco Party (c/o Jorge Takara)
Dec. 8 - Kyoto Pag-asa Filipino
Community Christmas Party (c/o Emy Arai)
Dec. 15 - PCCC Christmas Event
The Evolution of Philippine Costumes Hotel Nikko Nara (c/o Joy Yoshitomi)
Dec. 15 - Kakogawa Filipino
Community Christmas Party (c/o Herbert Benzon)
Dec. 22 - New Community Christmas Party (c/o Jun Silva)
Dec. 22 - St. Paul Amagasaki
Christmas Party and Bingo (c/o Maritess Kita)
Dec. 23 - North Nara Filipino Community
Christmas Party (c/o Luz Teranishi)