The papal nuncio to the Philippines called on the Filipino faithful to always put Christ in the center of their Christmas celebrations.
“Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, these things are nice, but they are completely secondary,” said Archbishop Charles Brown over Church-run Radio Veritas 846 on Tuesday, December 14.
He said Christmas is “not about Rudolf the red nose reindeer, but the birth of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.”
The prelate said the celebration of Christmas should not be limited to the secular celebration especially because it is about the birth of the savior of the world.
Archbishop Brown expressed his admiration of the faith of the Filipino people, especially in their traditional observance of Christmas and the use of the nativity scene and Christmas lanterns as decors.
The archbishop said he is not agreeable to the proposal in the United States to officially remove the greeting of “Merry Christmas” in public.
“That’s a kind of an intolerance,” he said, adding that “a mistaken idea of tolerance … becomes an intolerance.”
“So, we all need to say happy Christmas and continue that beautiful tradition,” he said in the radio show.
Christmas in the Philippines is one long, colorful holiday that starts as early as September and lasts until either the Feast of the Epiphany or the Feast of the Black Nazarene of Manila on January 9.
The predominantly Catholic country of more than a hundred million people celebrates the world’s longest Christmas season.
The official observance by the Catholic Church in the Philippines, however, starts with traditional early morning Mass on December 16 until the Feast of the Epiphany on the first Sunday of the year.