BEING culturally different did not stop delegates of the Asian Youth Day held last November 20 to 27 from being one, not only in celebrating their faith, but also in rejoicing the birth of Christ.

Most of the delegates partake the same practices of celebrating Christmas, such as putting up Christmas trees, holding parties and exchanging gifts with family and friends.

However, there are also those who celebrate the holidays in a different manner, spinning their own interpretations of what “Christmas spirit” is really about.

Christmas, a binding force

Aside from the midnight Mass that is similar to the “Simbang Gabi” and Misa de Gallo in the Philippines, Indian sisters Fermine Souza and Manjila Palippada prefer to do charitable works during Christmas.

“We visit the slums and give them food. We also organize games for children to enjoy,” said Souza.

Vietnamese nun Goretti Huang’s idea of spreading the joy of the season can be seen through home visits and holding Christmas parties in different communities.

Being with the family is another prominent theme of Christmas celebration in Asia, with Asians famous for this family-centric value.

For Filipinos like Thomasians Arianne Ramos and Trina Lumanglas, Christmas is viewed as a time solely devoted to their families.

“We just have a simple celebration for a family of four. Giving gifts and dining together with four of us complete on Christmas day is enough,” Ramos, a biology junior, said.

Likewise, Tourism sophomore Lumanglas revealed that having noche buena with her family is her most favorite part. “It has been a tradition in our family. After we eat, we exchange gifts to each other,” she said.

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Chinese Yue Feibao described his simple celebration of Christmas day as dining with family and close friends.

“We do not hold fancy parties unlike here in the Philippines. For us, it’s already good to see each other and eat together,” he said.

For Indonesian missionary Jeanny Lim, being the only Catholic in the family has kept her Christmas celebrations with her Christian community.

Chinese Agung Sunyato is also one of the few Catholics in his community. He was thankful that though they were few in their celebration, they were still able to put up a simple celebration for Christmas.

“There were never really obstacles. Everyone was given the chance to practice their own religion,” he said.

Amid cultural differences, Christmas still holds a distinct place in every Christian’s hearts, regardless of how it is celebrated. Through sharing and by being living examples of Christ’s love, the true essence of Christmas is fulfilled.

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