Christmas Eve is a special day to Filipinos. After going to church for midnight mass, families gather for “Noche Buena, ” an annual get-together for members of the family who may not have seen each other for months or even years.
They exchange gifts and generally enjoy one another’s company. They may not see one another again until the next Christmas Eve.
This year most of the country has been under some form of lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring people to stay home for their own safety. Offices and businesses have been closed down since March along with public mass transport, to keep the coronavirus from spreading.
For a while, we were not even sure if we would have any kind of gathering for the Christmas holidays, but after nine of months of lockdowns, during which annual celebrations and gatherings like fiestas and birthdays, Santacruzans and Undas, were cancelled. The government saw it was safe enough to allow small gatherings in celebration of Christmas, but still with basic health protocols such as face masks and face shields and social distancing.
In many parts of the world, the pandemic continues to spread and kill thousands of people, prompting nations like the United States, United Kingdom (UK), Italy, and France to renew lockdowns. They will not have their traditional Christmas or New Year celebrations.
It is a specially dismal Christmas for the UK with the emergence of a new strain of the COVID-19 which has begun to infect the people in London and southeast England. Many countries have already closed their borders to anyone from UK, uncertain about the danger posed by the new variant, whether it is more deadly than the old one and whether it can be treated with the new vaccines.
In recent weeks in the Philippines, we have had typhoons and floods, the latest caused by tropical depression “Vicky” destroying homes and flooding wide areas in Mindanao and the Visayas. Before that we had typhoon “Ulysses” flooding wide areas in Cagayan, Isabela, down to Metro Manila and Bicol. But we have had these before and we have learned to live with them.
This year has been different because of COVID-19. We are fortunate and we are blessed that we have been able to ease our restrictions so that we are able to celebrate Christmas. We have been able to have our nine-day “Simbang Gabi” and we will be able to gather for Christmas Eve tonight, have our traditional “Noche Buena” family gatherings, and celebrate Christmas Day.
Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph