WINTER is the coldest season of the year in temperate climates, between autumn and spring. It is caused by the axis of the Earth in the respective hemisphere being oriented away from the Sun. Different cultures define different dates as the start of winter, and some use a definition based on weather, but when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. In many regions, winter is associated with snow and freezing temperatures. At the winter solstice, the days are shortest and the nights are longest, with days lengthening as the season progresses after the solstice.
This year, winter in the Northern Hemisphere (which is responsible for the north east monsoons combined with warm maritime airstreams, affect Hong Kong's weather) starts on December 21, 2013 and will end March 19, Wednesday.
So many things come into mind when we talk about this promising season. Glitter, laughter, hot cocoa, abundant food and a lot of gatherings are just but a few representations.
Let me share to you my top 10 favorites as this season approaches:
1. WELCOMING THE HOLIDAYS
Here in Hong Kong, Winterfest will begin on November 29 this year as the country welcomes the holidays with spectacular festivities. The city is lighted up with grand Christmas lights and explosive decorations that attract thousands of tourists worldwide annually. The Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui are packed most of the days of the Holiday Season. For shopaholics and most especially tourists, it is advisable that you take care of your personal belongings that it really gets too crowded even if you love that "Boxing Day" vibe. Hong Kong is safe but with that much shopping bags that you'll carry around as you shop, it's more likely you'd misplace your phone while paying or when trying on the clothes that you wanted to buy. So, there's a chance that you'll loose it.
IFC in Central, Hong Kong offers the stylish, high-end decors to showcase Hong Kong creativity. Couture designers and fine artists, last 2012, had graced the mall with classy decors with subtle blue and white lighting to let the cooling effect of Christmas succumb on you.
Langham Mall in Mong Kok remains competitive as they have the longest elevator. Same theme, but bigger treats and freebies given by promoters surrounding the area. It makes me remember the famous Ayala strip in the Philippines, almost all malls strive to put up the best. A line of buildings would flaunt what they got in terms of their Christmas decorations. The louder, the better!
|Langham Mall, Mong Kok|
Just when I had to purchase make up in Elements (one of HK's finest malls located just outside the KOWLOON MTR station), I found their decor so warm and unique with miniature villages covered with snow. Much more awaits as Winter approaches.
Now, does it snow in Hong Kong? Thank God, no! There was a time, I think 2009 when the winter months had taken a long toll. I remember gazing out at the window asking when will the sun come out again. Personally, I prefer a sunny day than a grey day. Hong Kong holds a chilly 0 degree Celsius temperature as the country's coldest ever recorded. It doesn't snow here but the breeze that gushes thru could be freezing during the months of January and February as the result of the melting ice from China and Russia.
2. Yes! SHOPPING!!!
So, since it gets cold and breezy, it is a must that you'd keep yourself warm. Put out those scarves, purchase a good pair of boots and choose a good jacket. Light layering from Autumn might just be needing a bonnet, pair of gloves and probably an additional outer cover.
Starting from head to toe, I love wearing bonnets and when it gets too chilly, I wear ear muffs. I've had some bubble jackets but for formal dinners and serene gatherings, it's good to be able to use a coat or two. Neutral colors are always the best. You can combine them with a lot of shades and easier to pair with your footwear. Long sleeve warmers are good investments. And so are leggings or thick panty hose for your dresses. Winter leggings had become trendy since last year. Probably one of the reasons why I am not that in love with Winter is the unavailability of explosive hues to choose from with its basics but the winter leggings makes this season more enjoyable. Sweats are good when you stay home and decide to watch TV over a hot cup of coffee. Sweats are partnered with a hoodie most of the time that for me, I find it as my go-to hibernating clothes. Boots are preferred during Winter above all else. Ugg Boots from Australia, I believe, are the most sought after here in Hong Kong. But since winter leggings became a hit, elf shoes or oxfords were instantly welcomed as they emphasized the playfulness of the getup.
Besides the fact that it happens once in a blue moon, Christmas is the time of giving. And that's the ultimate reason why it's good to do Christmas shopping. No matter which form: gifts, time, effort, love, there is something about this time of the year that makes "giving" oh! so special! It is important to remind all of you to do your Christmas shopping early. So that you'll get to enjoy my next favorite.
3. WRAPPING GIFTS
With the Christmas medley on the background and the aroma of cinnamon blending in with your hot coffee, wrapping gifts becomes instantly delightful. This is something that I inherited from my aunties. They are amazing in wrapping gifts as they can make it look like a t-shirt or an explosive bag of treats, it was just enticing to see it. Most especially, once it gets under the Christmas tree, you don't want anything except open them but as for my family's tradition, we have to wait until Christmas eve to open the gifts altogether. Elders in our family give "aguinaldo"s as well and as I have come to age that it was my turn to give it out to my own godsons and goddaughters, I resorted to giving gifts instead. It's much fun for kids. If I give out money, I feel like I'm teaching them to lose the idea of giving.
if I give this to my friend, would I like it to be given to me too?
What is my wife's favorite color?
What is that one simple thing my husband would need endlessly?
You'll be surprised when the simplest detail about that special person helps you get the perfect gift. So as I ended #3 with the statement, "If I give out money, I feel like I'm teaching them to lose the idea of giving" = it is about giving a chance for the relationship to flourish more. Because money just spoils everything about gift-giving. It gives the receiver the notion that it's the most convenient thing to give. Somehow, it wasn't given that much time and effort. Sometimes, a personal touch also can make it extra meaningful. Your gift should remind the receiver of you. Of course, my opinion goes for just giving gifts during the holidays. At weddings, funerals and baptismal gatherings, monetary presents are advised. In Chinese culture, giving of money is more of blessing the person with good fortune. So, either way the most important detail about giving gifts is, it is something given from the heart and it is given not to expecting anything in return.
5. HOLIDAY PRESENTATIONS
From the year 2000, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be casted in so many holiday shows. I've done events from the Philippines and up until now, I still get to perform and extend Christmas greetings to thousands and thousands of people every year.
Let me give you a throwback to my most favorite amongst all of these shows by watching this.
Yes, it is beautiful and magical indeed.
When I was still young, I've always asked my parents to take me and watch Disney on Ice as a group comes in Manila to perform for the whole month of December. It never happened but God had blessed me to be part of spectacular shows at the present here in Hong Kong Disneyland. Come and see the Christmas Illumination everyday in the park at 6:30pm. Hear sweet carols and see Hong Kong Disneyland's giant Christmas tree light up with mini fireworks as Goofy, Mickey and Minnie rides the sleigh to help you thru the countdown.
6. WINE AND CHEESE
When talking about wine, my personal favorite is rose wine since it's somewhere in the middle of both red and white. Not too dry and not too strong. This habit had been quite cultural. Not everybody would go for it. But the beauty of having some wine and cheese lies on the company you have. And I believe all of you would agree. Wine also helps in keeping you warm and helps in regulating the heart rate if taken in reasonable amounts.
7. GATHERING UP
This is a special time to sit down and celebrate with loved ones over a scrumptious meal. People who work overseas save their vacation leave for this. And that is mostly observed among Filipinos. But I must say, wherever you are, as long as your family and loved ones are with you, that's where the feast is. Like what my sister shared, let's not forget to be thankful and to gather as much every chance we get. The Holidays are not just the only time to celebrate what we have. Life is short and showing our love and giving time to our family should be done every time if you may. You don't want to wait until it's too late to do that.
8. MAKING MEMORIES
Take as many photos as you can of somebody's Christmas outfit, your mom's stew, or your gift and have it posted up to remind you of such happiness that you once owned. I got one of my god daughter taken because I loved how comfortable she was in being a walking "attitude". She loves attention (I mean, who doesn't!???) and she's such a darling. She loves celebrating and she loves seeing people coming together and having fun. Check this out! I think, her outfit says it all!
9. KEEPING IN TOUCH
Reality bites to some who are not fortunate of means to get closer to their loved ones because of distance, a passed argument or lack of time. And it's always hard to find the right time to do something about it. Little do we know that this is the best season to reach out, make amends and remember ties that you've suppressed but was kept dearly in your heart. There is an elating force when this Christmas comes and it's not wrong to take advantage of it. The natural high that it radiates to all of us is an encouragement to be the better person and to be able to let go of the past. It is a stepping stone to renewing bonds and making better ones. Social networks have been quite a medium to a lot of advertisements, unsolicited comments (ha!) and news that actually are irrelevant to our lives. Why not make a good use of it by keeping in touch with the people that matters to you most and start by wishing them Happy Holidays.
10. CELEBRATING LIFE
It holds a great impact in life to realize how fortunate I am compared to others. I am not looking at it in the context that what I have is all better but, I couldn't find of anything more to wish for except time and health for me to have more days with my family. I did mention this on my birthday post but I am saying it again. That is a reason for me to celebrate life and the best way to celebrate is to share to the ones dear to us by blessing them of what we have in abundance.
Blessing a person could be in a way of listening, surprising them with a cooked viand if they are from a busy day of work or a mere wish for them to have a prosperous year ahead, or by just inviting them over in the name of merriment. The idea is, it could be anyhow. It may be a huge step to take if we just randomly pick somebody to let them inside our house so, be careful with that. But there are ways that you could extend that calling to give and share. Start with the ones near you.
And most of all, acknowledge God above of that ability to extend a helping hand, of that roof in your heads and be appreciative of what you have. The world is round and the lives on the other side may be different from yours. If you are reading this, you are 1 of the world's 1/3 that has access to the internet. The rest don't even know it and maybe barely thriving. That's a blessing right there.
That's it for my top 10! You are welcome to share yours. Just leave the blog addresses that you wrote it on and it would be a blessing to read your shared thoughts. You are welcome to leave any addition as well via the comment boxes below! Enjoy the Holidays!