The old Sugboanon BisayÃ word for a celebration with gift giving is surapÃ´.Â It is a combination of the words surÃ¡, which means lively rhythm and pÃ´, which is an address of respect of the divine.Â We still use the word â€œpÃ´â€ Â in â€œpohÃ³nâ€.Â We say, â€œUgmÃ pohÃ³n. = Tomorrow, God willingâ€.Â Sometimes when a Boholano will go into the dark to relieve himself he will say â€œTabÃ¬ pÃ´. = Excuse me divine spiritâ€.
When the Spaniards introduced Christmas in the SugboÃ¡non speaking regions they did not use the apt word surapÃ´ for the reason that our â€œpÃ´â€ is not the same as Jesus Christ.Â They introduced the inapt word â€œpaskoâ€.Â However, in some languages in Luzon the word â€œpÃ´â€ or â€œpÃ³onâ€ is still used to refer to a saint or even Jesus Christ.
The word pasko comes from the Spanish word â€œpascuaâ€, which means paschal or Passover.Â The â€œLast Superâ€ of Jesus Christ and his disciples was a paschal meal celebrating the Passover of death that was the last plague of Prophet Moses in order to be allowed to leave Egypt.Â The word pasko is supposed to be part of the terms to be used during Holy Week to refer to the Last Supper.
In the 1852 and 1885 â€œSpanish â€“ BisayÃ Dictionaryâ€ of Fr. Juan Felix de la Encarnacion, the word â€œpaskoâ€ was still equivalent to â€œpascuaâ€ or the Paschal meal or the Last Supper.Â The Spanish word for Christmas was â€œNavidad = Nativityâ€.
In the 1928 â€œBisayan-English Dictionaryâ€ by Fr. Patrick Rafferty, S.J. the entries are â€œPasko sa pagkabÃ¡nhaw = Easterâ€ and â€œPasko sa pagkatÃ¡wo = Christmasâ€.Â The meaning of â€œPaskoâ€ got transferred from the Passover meal to that of Easter.
In the 1974 â€œVelazquez Spanish-English Dictionaryâ€ by Mariano Velazquez, the Spanish word â€œPascuaâ€ is translated as a.) Passover, b.) Easter; c.) Christmas, as a metaphor.Â The Spanish word â€œNavidadâ€ is still Christmas but â€œPascuaâ€ is now accepted as a metaphor.
The 1995 â€œDiccionario De La Lengua EspaÃ±olaâ€ by the Real Academia EspaÃ±la has already many meanings of Pascua and Christmas is among the definitions.
At first Pascua or Pasko was used by the Spaniards to mean the Last Supper.Â However, they also introduced the Nochebuena or the supper during Christmas Eve.Â It also became known as a Pasko.
To distinguish the two suppers, one was labeled as Pasko sa PagkabÃ¡nhaw and the other as Pasko sa PagkatÃ¡wo.
However, during the religious rite of the Last Supper what became significant was the ceremony of washing the feet of the disciples by Jesus Christ.Â The Bisayan term for this ceremony is â€œPamÃºsÃ â€.Â The meal became secondary. So the Pasko got transferred to resurrection day or Easter as Pasko sa PagkabÃ¡nhaw.Â It soon got shortened to PagkabÃ¡nhaw.Â Since it will always occur on a Sunday it soon became known as Domingo sa PagkabÃ¡nhaw and the word â€œPaskoâ€ got sidelined.
Now the â€œPasko sa PagkatÃ¡woâ€ no longer had a competitor.Â It got shortened to Pasko and became the equivalent of Christmas.
All the while the Spanish language also evolved.Â After hundreds of years it eventually accepted that Pascua or Pasko, which means Passover, can also mean Christmas as a metaphor.
Evolution of Culture
In the concept introduced by the Spaniards, Christmas is a religious activity.Â When the Americans took over, they changed the educational system to follow the American way.Â In school the Americans introduced so many concepts and cultural practices not practiced by the Spaniards.Â For example, the Americans introduce the use of a Christmas Tree during Christmas.Â It was not practiced during Spanish times.Â Since the Americans did not care about native languages but only English, until now nobody has created a Bisayan word for â€œChristmas Treeâ€.Â The garland, which was the main decoration during Spanish times is lukÃ³ng in BinisayÃ¢.
The Americans introduced Santa Claus and Christmas Parties where gifts are given.Â Soon the â€œChristmas Seasonâ€ got commercialized and transferred to months before December 25.Â The religious â€œChristmas Seasonâ€ is from December 25 to January 5 the next year and January 6 is the celebration of the â€œThree Kingsâ€ or Epiphany.
Itâ€™s Already a SurapÃ´
The emphasis of todayâ€™s Christmas is the celebration of joy and happiness.Â Parties are held and gifts are given.Â Only very few are conscious of the religious significance.Â Those who are religiously inclined are complaining that Christmas is already commercialized.
Since it is already the present culture I suggest that we use SurapÃ´ to refer to the commercialized Christmas, and Pasko for the religious aspect of Christmas.
In the religious schedule of Christmas (Dec. 25 to Jan. 5) the New Year, which is another event, is traversed.Â So we also greet â€œHappy New Year = Malipayong Bag-ong Tuigâ€. (By Jes B. Tirol)