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As we enter November and approach the holiday season, I cannot help but grow excited for the upcoming celebrations. Filipinos are renowned for our hospitality, and this is especially evident during the holidays.

Holidays incorporate our tradition and our religion. They are a time for not only celebration of our faith, but celebration of family and of our culture.

Perhaps even more poignant are the days leading up to holidays. There’s a long-standing joke in the Philippines that the Christmas season begins when the month’s end in “ber”. Many places will begin playing Christmas music as early as September.

While many people in America complain about the growing secularization and commercialization of holidays, Filipinos are alert and aware to their true meaning. Halloween in the Philippines is a time of prayer and contemplation when we remember our loved ones who have passed away. Thanksgiving, while an American holiday, has turned into a classic Filipino-American celebration in the States. Christmas is a days-long celebration observed with daily Mass attendance. New Year festivities are also a time of celebration and prayer for health and prosperity in the coming year.

Having celebrated the holiday season both in America and in the Philippines, I cannot help but love the Filipino variations more. I love the warmth and spirit behind them, the focus on family and on love.

Last Christmas, I brought a new Filipino friend to my family Christmas celebration. As a Filipino adoptee raised by an American family, I wanted him to see how Filipinos celebrate Christmas. I only told my family I was bringing him a couple days before the celebration, but they still had a Christmas present wrapped and waiting for him under the tree.

This is the sort of hospitality that has become so characteristic of the Filipino people and one that I wish I saw more of in American culture.

However you celebrate the holidays, though, this is a wonderful time of the year. While it can be lonely for many of us as large parts of our families are in the Philippines and we cannot all be together, this is still truly a time for celebration and happiness.

I hope that all of you are enjoying this time of preparation leading up to the holidays.