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The Christmas holidays has long been an excuse to be extravagant.

Filipinos celebrate it by
throwing grand parties and exchanging gifts. Another popular tradition we practice is giving
Aguinaldo to kids. I looked it up on the internet and was enlightened that it originated from the
Spanish era. Aguiuinaldo is a Spanish term for bonus. It’s what the Filipino workers get as extra
pay during Christmas at that time..

After our Family Christmas Reunion, I had a chat with Mikel, my friend from Spain who spent the
holidays in the Philippines. He was a bit bummed because his hosts were waiting for 12
midnight before they start the party. He said there were a lot of presents and everyone was
really excited to open them. He then shared that in Spain, the holiday for gift giving is the Feast
of Epiphany on January. Santa Claus is not popular to them. The gifts given to children are
brought by the three Kings who gave gifts to baby Jesus.

I was confused. If Aguinaldo had Spanish origins, how come it doesn’t add up? It got me
thinking, where did this tradition really come from? What was the reason behind the practice? I
couldn’t figure it out.

Let’s back track to our Christmas reunion a little. It always ends with our aunt, siblings and some
cousins giving out red envelopes or “ampaw” to our younger cousins, nieces and nephews. This
again is another thing that raises my eyebrows. The Chinese use these red envelopes during
Chinese New Year. So our tradition is simply a mixture of a lot of other nations’ influence. I’m
not even sure if we know why we are doing it.

At our dinner table, one of my nephews approached me and handed me a red envelope. I was
surprised at first because I thought he was giving me Aguinaldo. But then, I was wrong. He is
quite shy to verbalize it, but I understood by his body language that he was trying to ask
Aguinaldo from me. I have never given Aguinaldo to anyone as far as I can remember, not even
my godsons and goddaughters. I explained to him that giving Aguinaldo is not part of my GIVE
account. My GIVE account is for more important matters and I cited a few. So to spare the both
of us from that awkward moment from here on out, I told him that I will not be giving Aguinaldo
in the years to come too.

You might say that the spirit of Christmas is giving and it’s just once a year anyway. And I will
always say that as a budgetarian, one could always choose to set aside money for Aguinaldo
for the Christmas Season. But as for me, giving Aguinaldo doesn’t support my financial goals so
I choose not to give.

Being self-declared budgetarians, Mikel and I don’t support the idea of buying STUFF just to
have something to give. As for money, I personally agree to it as long as it is part of your GIVE
account. If you’re going to give gifts, choose wisely. Go for items that will teach kids to prioritize
necessity over novelty. Buy items that will last rather than what is “in” for the season. Young as
they are, they should be taught the value of money. We often complain about kids being picky
when in fact, it is our practice of extravagance that made them that way.
“Only dead fish go with the flow”

If we are to follow tradition, we should at least know why they are being practiced and evaluate
if we agree with the reasons. Following tradition is not always the best thing to do, much like
breaking tradition is not always a bad thing. Choose what will help you achieve your financial