A double-edged celebration

A double-edged celebration

The Philippines proudly claims the title of hosting the world’s longest Christmas celebration, a unique extravaganza that stretches from September to January. This extended celebration brings both advantages and disadvantages, weaving a complex tapestry of joy, economic stimulation, and cultural significance.


The most apparent benefit of the prolonged Christmas season is the extended sense of joy and festivity that engulfs the nation. Filipinos relish the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit for an extended period, fostering a lasting sense of togetherness and happiness.

In small towns and barangays, this communal spirit finds expression in various activities such as parades, carolling, and Christmas-themed events, creating a shared experience that resonates throughout communities.


The extended Christmas season also becomes a significant economic driver for the country, particularly for businesses in retail, hospitality, and food industries. The heightened demand for decorations, gifts, and festive foods not only boosts sales but also generates job opportunities, contributing to overall economic growth.

Malls and markets witness a surge in foot traffic as Filipinos engage in Christmas shopping sprees, providing a substantial injection of revenue for businesses, and sustaining the local economy.


In addition, Christmas holds profound cultural and religious significance in the predominantly Catholic Philippines. The extended celebration allows for a deeper exploration and expression of faith and cultural traditions. Various religious activities and events take place during this time, fostering a stronger sense of identity and community.

Simbang Gabi, a series of nine dawn masses leading up to Christmas, stands as a testament to the Filipinos’ deep connection to their Catholic roots, contributing to a cultural richness that defines the nation.


However, this extended celebration comes with its drawbacks, particularly in the realm of commercialization and materialism. The focus on material aspects, such as extravagant decorations and gift-giving, often overshadows the true essence of the season. The pressure to engage in consumerist practices can lead to financial strain for some families.

Many individuals feel compelled to purchase expensive gifts and participate in lavish celebrations, contributing to a culture of excess that may not align with the original spirit of Christmas.


Moreover, the prolonged Christmas celebration can pose challenges to work productivity. With numerous holidays and festivities, employees may find it difficult to maintain focus and meet deadlines. This slowdown in operations can have repercussions for industries that rely on consistent output.

Some businesses experience a noticeable decrease in productivity during the holiday season, affecting both production and service-oriented sectors.


Additionally, the extensive use of decorations, lights, and disposable items during the extended Christmas season contributes to environmental concerns. Excessive waste and energy consumption, coupled with the disposal of non-biodegradable materials, have a detrimental impact on the environment.

Streets often bear witness to the aftermath of the celebrations, littered with discarded decorations, contributing to pollution and environmental degradation.


While Christmas is a time for joy and celebration, the prolonged festivities can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and social pressure, particularly for individuals who may not have strong family or social connections. The expectation to be part of the celebrations can be emotionally taxing for those who are isolated or facing personal challenges.

Individuals who are away from their families or have lost loved ones may experience heightened feelings of loneliness and isolation during the extended Christmas season.


In conclusion, the Philippines’ claim to the world’s longest Christmas celebration encapsulates a spectrum of experiences, from the joyous and economically stimulating to the challenges of commercialization, productivity, and environmental impact. As Filipinos continue to cherish their unique Christmas traditions, it is crucial to strike a balance that preserves the true spirit of the season while addressing the associated challenges in a sustainable manner.

The author is the Founder and CEO of Hungry Workhorse, a digital, culture, and customer experience transformation consulting firm. He is a Fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation. He is the Chair of the Digital Transformation IT Governance Committee of FINEX Academy. He teaches strategic management and digital transformation in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be emailed at rey.lugtu@hungryworkhorse.com

Source: https://mb.com.ph/2023/12/28/article-1645