“So basically, aguinalduhan is a gathering we do in our church every year on the last Sunday before Christmas where all of the adults go into, like, a parking lot and bring bulk snacks and toys and stuff like from Costco… Like those 28-pack chips or candy boxes. They all sit in a big circle with their big packages of food and snacks. Then the kids all line up outside the circle in order from youngest to oldest until you’re like 20 years old and it’s like a long line of trick or treaters that get older as you go… the funniest part is that we’ll usually bully our oldest cousins out of the line once they get to be around 22 or 23 because at that point, like, they’re just being greedy. But then what ends up happening is that they have a kid a couple years later and get to go to the front of the line when their kid is the youngest out of all of us.”
Background: The informant is a 19-year old college student who was raised a Christian in a church that was led and run by his extended family members.
Context: This tradition was shared with me over FaceTime.
I experienced aguinalduhan annually with the informant when we were children, and it was a cyclical tradition that marked the end of another year. Participants in the tradition slowly made their way to the back of the line as new lives began entering through the front. As an adult, many of our older cousins are now the ones bringing the goodies (like Oreo snack packs, fruit snacks, Caprisuns) to hand out to all of the younger cousins.
According to limited information available about the idea of “Aguinaldohan” online, our church’s tradition stemmed from a custom named after the first President of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo, where people gave back to the needy during Christmastime. This version is definitely more sanitized and family-friendly, and serves as a way for everyone to get together and see how we’ve grown throughout the years.