Wednesday, December 15, 2010

¡Buenas Pascuas! (1891)

Christmas in the Philippines is, according to the grown-ups, a holiday for children; the children do not perhaps share this opinion and the thought can even be hazarded that they have an instinctive fear of Christmas. Indeed it is a day when they are woken up early, washed, and loaded with new, expensive and showy clothes, silken booties, huge hats, woolen, silk or satin suits, without forgetting four or five little scapulars bearing the gospel of St. John, and thus encumbered taken to High Mass for almost an hour, compelled to suffer the heat and the smells fo the tightly packed and sweaty congregation, and, if not forced to recite the Rosary, to be quiet and be bored or go to sleep, punished and scolded for every movement or any prank that might soil their new clothes. So it is that they neither laugh  nor are merry at all, and in their round eyes can be seen a nostalgia for their old every-day clothes and a protest agains so much embroidery. Afterwards they are taken from house to house to visit relatives and greet them, as is the custom, by kissing hands; there they have to dance, sing, and put on exhibition any graces they may have, whether or not they feel like it, and whether or not they are at ease in all their finery, with the usual scoldings and snappings whenever they try to have their own way. The relatives give them coins but these are taken over by their parents and that is the last they hear of these presents. The only thing clear they get from the holiday are the scoldings and the discomforts, and more of the that not a stomach-ache from a surfeit of sweets and biscuits in the house of the more generous relatives. But that is the way of the country, and the Filipino children make their entrance into the great world by means of these trials, after all, turn out to be the least sorrowful, and the least ardous, in their lives.

The grown-ups who live by themselves have a share of their own in the holiday. They visit their parents and their uncles and aunts, bend a knee, and wih them a Happy Christmas; their presents are a sweet, a fruit, a glass of water or some trinket.

José Rizal
El Filibusterismo
Ghent , Belgium 1891

Translated by Leon Ma. Guerrero (1961)

Link to Spanish Version