THE Philippines is known for having the world’s longest and merriest Christmas season. Imagine Filipinos celebrating the holiday for four months, starting from September until early January when the Epiphany, or the Feast of the Three Kings, is celebrated.
Just when they hear of the “ber” months, people already feel the Christmas-sy vibe. As early as September, it’s not unusual to see a series of huge Christmas displays popping up in malls, parks and open spaces across the country at night. One is the country’s unique and popular Christmas decoration, known as the parol, or Christmas lantern hang on houses or streetlamps. The lantern is basically in the shape of a five-pointed star, representing the star of Bethlehem to guide the wise men towards the manger where Jesus lay.
You can already hear Christmas music playing everywhere; children going around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols in front of every house; and would hear people saying, “Christmas na!”, though it is still two months away. Even Christmas sales and bazaars seek to get people’s attention, not to mention the rush hours and hassle traffic during these times.
Nevertheless, Filipinos still manage to celebrate the joyous season and have a merry Christmas.
Friends and families living kilometers away from one another meet up despite the aberrations. Christmas parties are held here and there. But what every Filipino looks forward to is the noche buena, a Philippine tradition where families gather to sit down for dinner on Christmas Eve and enjoy food specifically made for the evening. It is a day of family closeness, everyone wishing good cheers and glad tidings, and when they give and open presents. Traditionally, the most popular food served on every table are queso de bola and hamon.
The Philippines is also known as a Catholic country that’s why simbang gabi or dawn Masses, are very important for many Filipinos, many of whom are Roman Catholics. It is part of their cherished religious tradition when Filipinos attend a series of nine Masses, from December 16 until the Christmas Eve. It is believed that if you make a wish after completing the nine masses, it will come true. Filipinos go to church at 4 o’clock in the morning and afterward have breakfast together. The traditional drink during this season is a warm ginger tea, called salabat, and the traditional treats are bibingka and puto bumbong sold outside churches after the dawn Mass.
Christmas is for the children, a most-awaited day because it’s the day for them to visit their uncles, aunts, godmothers and godfathers who present them with gifts, usually candies, a toy or crisp bills of money called aginaldo.
While we live by many traditions to celebrate Christmas, may we continue to remember and celebrate the true essence of Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ.
*This article was extracted from: