Christmas is indeed the happiest time of the year. Many countries celebrate it in different ways. Some are based on their religious beliefs and some are celebrating it for commercial purposes only. Whatever reasons they have, I’d like to share with you this one particular country that celebrates Christmas interestingly and it’s no other than, Philippines!
PHILIPPINES’ CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS
It is believed that Philippines have the longest Christmas season in the world. As early as September, people in their homes and shops can be heard playing the Christmas carols. It marks the start of the long and happy season. Moreover, Filipinos start to decorate Christmas ornaments and gorgeous lights in their homes and shops. The most popular decoration is the “Parol”. It is made of a colored Japanese paper or cellophane and Bamboo sticks. They are formed together into a big star lantern which is then lighted at the center. The Parol represents the star the guided the three Wise Men to where the baby Jesus was born.
Formally, 16th of December is the start of celebration. Catholic people go to churches starting on that day to attend the “9 early morning masses” or “Misa de Gallio”; that is from 16th of December until the Christmas Day. 80% of the Philippines’’ population is Catholics so no wonder it is the most important and celebrated holiday. Catholics believe that if they fulfilled the 9 early morning masses, their Christmas wishes will be granted. Outside the church, vendors sell the traditional food especially popular in this holiday season such as “Puto bumbong” and “Tsokolate”. Mind you these foods are sold in no time so you must be in the church early if you like to taste them.
On the Christmas Eve, many people stay awake all night and wait for the clock to strike at 12:00. They usually sing Karaoke, play games, cook special desserts, drink alcohol, and/or take each other’s pictures to keep themselves awake. People attend the Christmas Eve mass earlier in the evening. Then they will gather together to eat Noche Buena or midnight feast after going back to their homes they It is a big and special meal joined by all the members of the family and friends. Popular Noche Buena dishes include the Lechon or roasted pig, Ham, Fruit Salad, Puto bumbong, and Coke. Most people have the Exchanging of Presents in which each family members bring gifts and give to other members of the family after eating the Noche Buena. It is the most awaited part of the holiday since everyone get to receive surprising presents.
On the other hand, Christmas in Philippines is mixed with Western traditions too, which means that they also have Santa Claus, Christmas trees and cards. The celebrations continue to the First Sunday in January when Epiphany or the Feast of the Three Kings is celebrated. After this day, people start to put away their decorations.
How about in your country? How do you traditionally celebrate Christmas? Feel free to write it down in the Comments section. Happy Holidays!