And just like that Christmas Day is over. Presents have been exchanged and opened. Christmas family meals have been shared. Things are all back to their normal routine. And people are back in their quest of wealth, power and fame. Some, just to the usual grind of earning a living.
Not in the Philippines, where Christmas is a season. Radio stations start playing Christmas carols as early as the ‘ber‘ months – September, October, November. But things really begin to look little by little like Christmas when the amihan winds start blowing in from the North, bringing cold and dry winds so redolent of the Yuletide season. Advent, and the earnest preparations for Christmas for begin. Then on the 16th of December, the novena of dawn masses (Simbang Gabi) is the not so subtle announcement that Christmas is here. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas are not three days for most Filipinos. They are just one day of celebrations, reunions, get-togethers, masses and feasting. And the season does not end until the first weekend in January. Only then do things and people go back to their typical and customary ways. That gives Filipinos the time to visit and celebrate with all their friends and family.
Christmas in the US is the Chronos type of time. We count the hours and the minutes. Activities and events are scheduled by the hours. After the hours and the events are for just once and the done.
In the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated in Kairos time. Hours and minutes do not mean a thing. Everything is reckoned in –ish time, like nine-ish, ten-ish, eleven-ish, etc. Activities and events are not over until they are over. This is why Christmas day is a three-day event and Christmas is a season and not just a day.
Marianne, a dear niece, went home to the Philippines recently, spent time in a remote barrio (Siargao) and experienced the difference between chronos and kairos times. On the first few days, being the driven NYC girl that she is, she and her friend were itchy and antsy about what to do for the day. They wanted some ‘productive’ activities to spend their time on. But they were practically off the grid. And after a few says, the days simply flowed one into another. One morning on one of heir boat rides, she has to ask their boatman, “What day is it?” who replied, “Monday, I think. But I am not sure.” Marianne then realized that the people there counted the days not as Monday, Tuesday or Friday. Rather, there were only three days for them: yesterday, today and tomorrow. It was a liberating experience for Marianne. And immediately, she stopped counting the days and the hours. It was then that she noticed and was amazed by all the beauty surrounding her, the goodness in the people she was meeting and the truth in all her experiences and wanderings.
I feel Filipinos sense of time (the famous Filipino time) is of the the kairos rather than the chronos type. That to everything there is a season. Things get done when they need to get done. When it is time to go, it is time to go. When it is time to stay, it is time to stay. When the amihan starts blowing from the north, Christmas is coming. And when the habagat begins rushing from the south, the typhoons will soon bring rains and destruction.
These are my musings on the day after Christmas.