Kwento Kwentuhan

The BER Months Are Here Again … And We Are All Excited!

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Liza A Pierce of “A Maui Blog”

The BER what? If you are a Filipino (especially those who grew up in the Philippines) you know exactly what the BER months mean. Simply, it refers to the months in the calendar ending with BER … you know … SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER and DecemBER! For those who are not familiar with it, you may ask “So what does it mean? Why are they special and why are Filipinos, excited about it?” The short answer? Christmas!

More than any group of people in the world, Filipinos are die-hard lovers of Christmas. Christmas season in the Philippines starts on the first day of September when radios, television programs and shopping centers play Christmas songs to signify the arrival of the holiday season. Top of the list Christmas song being played in September is the “Christmas in Our Hearts” by Jose Marie Chan. Just as “All I Want For Christmas Is You” has become the modern Christmas anthem here in the U.S., “Christmas In Our Hearts” is the modern Christmas anthem in the Philippines.

Whenever I see girls and boys
selling lanterns on the streets
I remember the Child
in the manger as He sleeps
wherever there are people
giving gifts, exchanging cards
I believe that Christmas
is truly in their hearts

The “BER” months are back—SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER and DecemBER. As Filipinos, it seems we bypass the hype of the Fall season, Halloween and Thanksgiving, and go straight to celebrating Christmas in an amazing and prolonged way.
Photo: Liza Pierce

Back to our earlier question, “Why are we so excited about starting the Christmas season in September?”

Sociologist Clifford Sorita, a former seminarian and a professor at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, says celebrating Christmas starting with BER Months, helps us anticipate a horizon. Anticipating Christmas from the Horizon of the BER Months allows us to open up to new possibilities in the spirit of HOPE. So what HORIZON does Christmas represent? Answer: The Eternal God came to earth in the form of a man in order to save His own creation. Emmanuel (God is with Us)—“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive, and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14)—is a word written on countless Christmas cards throughout the centuries and sung in some of our most-loved carols. (Ah, read back the lyrics of the song I just shared and it reflects a similar sentiment).

Furthermore, Sorita shared the frenzy surrounding the BER months is bound in the anticipation of the arrival of the overseas workers. “This is really a big homecoming,” he says.

Sorita also says the BER months represent “a psychological time clock for most Filipinos to prepare” a jammed Christmas calendar with family and friends.

Wilfrido Arcilla, a marketing consultant who teaches at Manila’s Ateneo Graduate School of Business, says the Philippines’ long run-up to Christmas is not “some grand design like Black Friday” meant to entice crowds into the malls to spend. Instead, Arcilla says, the BER season is a natural confluence of things defining Filipino culture: “The celebration of family and faith, fiesta and food, friends and fun.” He says merchandisers are merely exploiting a Filipino passion for Christmas predating shopping malls.

As Filipinos here on Maui, are you joining in the spirit of celebrating Christmas beginning in September? I am!

I believe these several BER months long celebrations of making one feel Christmas is here and near is always a good feeling for Pinoys all over the world and not just in the Philippines. Sure, here in the U.S., some people get upset when they see Christmas decorations set up early because they still want to focus on other Holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving but for us Pinoys, we love to enjoy the spirit of Christmas early.

By the time you are reading this column, it is already mid-September. Even if there is no Christmas music being played on the radio (or streamed on the Internet or at shopping centers) go ahead, find the Christmas in our Hearts song on YouTube and sing along:

Let’s sing Merry Christmas
and a happy holiday
this season, may we never forget
the love we have for Jesus
let Him be the one to guide us
as another new year starts
and may the Spirit of Christmas
be always in our hearts.

Liza Pierce of A Maui Blog is an Interactive Media enthusiast. She started blogging in 2006 and she loves talking story online and spreading aloha around the world. She’s been living on Maui since 1994 and considers Maui her home. A wife, a mother, a friend…and so much more. She loves Jesus; Maui Sunsets Catcher; Crazy About Rainbow; End Alzheimer’s Advocate. Her life is full and exciting here on the island of Maui. Liza is currently the Digital Media Specialist with Hawai‘i Life Real Estate Brokers. She is the author of the book Maui 2021 and Beyond.