Christmas in the Philippines

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Christmas is fast coming on. It’s just  October but you can see a few houses with Christmas decorations already. Well, it is a pretty common sight here since Filipinos are known for celebrating Christmas for as long as possible. By the start of September shopping malls starts playing Christmas songs and having this spectacular light display. People start buying gifts for family, friends and inaanaks (godchildren). Christmas parties are here and there.

It is the most awaited season of the year for a mass of unique reasons (of course, besides the 13th month pay). And here’s why:

  1. Christmas carols. By the last week of November, children in small groups start going house to house singing Christmas carols. They have these makeshift instruments like tambourine made from aluminum bottle caps and drums made from milk cans. It’s a tradition to reward them with coins or else they’ll sing you “Ang babarat ninyo (you are so stingy), thank you!”
  2. Christmas lanterns. Homes, schools, offices and malls are adorned with star-shaped lanterns better known here as “parols”. It is one of the basic must-haves during this season. A home without parol is like a table without a food.
  3. Christmas parties. Parties are usually held starting the second week of December. Activities include Kris Kringle, talent shows and parlor games.
  4. Misa de Gallo. Filipinos begin a series of 9 masses starting December 16 until Christmas eve. The mass usually starts at 4 am. It is believed that your wish will be granted if you finished the 9 days of the novena.
  5. Christmas eve. The traditional Noche Buena is held during the eve of 24. The Noche Buena is an open house celebration with family, friends and neighbors. Most households would have several dishes laid out that includes queso de bola (ball of cheese), Hamon(Christmas ham), fruit salad, pasta and rice cakes.
  6. Aguinaldos. A Spanish word meaning Christmas bonus. On the Christmas morning children receive gifts or fresh bills of money usually stored in Ang Pao (Chinese red envelope) from their Ninong and ninang (godparents).

To most Filipinos, Christmas is the most anticipated holiday not only of the festivities, but because it is the celebration of love, joy and prosperity.

How do you celebrate your Christmas. Share here!

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