On Why Christmas and New Year Celebration in Cold Countries Is Not as Festive
“We are the children of our landscape [and weather too]; it dictates behavior and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it.”—Justine, by Lawrence Durrell.
A friend in the Philippines asked me how most people celebrate New Year here in Winnipeg,
Manitoba, Canada; and if it is as generally festive as it is in the Philippines.
Here is my response to her:
I would say that the weather has a great factor on how people celebrate events. Winter here–especially the months of December to February are the coldest—reaching -40degC. With that brutally cold temperature, events and occasions are better celebrated indoors. This is the primary reason Christmas and New Year is not festive here. Not that people don’t like colorful, joyful, or festive celebrations but simply because the harshness of the weather wouldn’t permit a comfortable lavish outdoor celebration.
Having said that, there are no firecrackers here—even watusi. There is, however, a park here known as The Forks—where there is a firework display that involves only shooting or firing off giant “Roman candles.” The lightshow is usually short, from about 7–9 p.m. of New Year’s Eve, and then that’s it; people then go back to their homes to celebrate the rest of the evening with a simple dinner with their families and, maybe, close friends.
Many Filipinos compensate for this inability to celebrate festively outdoors by hosting dinners at their homes for relatives and friends–the highlight of which is usually karaoke singing. There are also exchange gifts and some parlor games for kids and adults alike in some cases.
The good thing about this, however, is that, because the celebration is indoors, it makes the spirit of the season more intrinsically intimate, less ridiculously lavish, devoid of the dangers of firecrackers and stray bullets from careless revellers, and more of celebration than a contest on who has the most fancy display of materialism.
Sa Madaling Salita
Hindi magarbo at mala-fiesta ang selebrasyon ng Pasko at Bagong Taon dito sa Canada hindi dahil ayaw ng mga tao rito o hindi masayahin ang mga tao rito kundi dahil sa klase ng panahon ditto tuwing Disyembre hanggang Pebrero—sa sobrang tindi ng lamig dahil Tag-niebe, hindi maaaring magpakalat-kalat sa labas ang mga tao.
Or, in Simple Words
The celebration of Christmas and New Year’s Eve here in Canada is not festive not because people here don’t prefer it that way or not because they are not happy people; but rather because the kind of weather Canada has during the said holiday season, especially in the months of December to February, is too brutally cold to even allow people to stay long outdoors without feeling sick and uncomfortable. So, it’s really not about the people; it’s simply about the harshness of the Winter weather.