How We Celebrate a Traditional Christmas in the Philippines
It's that month of the year again! That month where Santa Claus would drop down by the chimney to present some gifts to those little boys and girls who were nice and not naughty. The month where everybody gets busy just to buy a gift and give it to their loved ones. But how do we celebrate Christmas here in our country? Read on and celebrate this jolly season with us!
Christmas here in the Philippines starts with the usual houses you always see adorned with Christmas lights. It's in that moment you realize that Christmas is getting near. Usually, some households would place some Christmas decorations as early as October.
Sround late November, you'll be surprised when some children go in front of your gate singing Christmas carols. It's up to you if you have spare change or are in the mood for some Christmas spirit! If you do, then you have to give a couple of pesos to the kids. Also, you would hear Christmas songs (I might guess 65% from singer Jose Mari Chan ) all over the radio. That would basically remind you that Christmas is warming up.
Being a student in a public or private school (or one who works in an office), one could never get away with the so-called “Christmas Party”. This signals the end of school days on December and opens the door for Christmas vacation. If you are a parent, you would find yourself asking your children about their gifts for their “secret Santas”. On day one, it has to be something red. On day two, something soft. On day three, something sweet. And the list goes on and on and on. This also goes for the people who work at offices or in some other establishments.
The moment Christmas vacation arrives, one has to stretch out his arms and get ready for a very long vacation. One must never forget to buy hamon de bola (because I think without this, Noche Buena is meaningless) as early as possible.
Everybody actually gets busy during Christmas. Banks are always full, people queue up in the cashier booths, children would grab a lot of toys and gifts because their papa or mama would come home from overseas... such are scenes that you would see at the height of Christmas vacation. Simbang gabi , a nine-day Roman Catholic ritual novena performed in the Philippines, starts nine days before Christmas. It ends on December 24 and most Filipinos would bravely wake up by four in the morning just to attend the nine-day mass. What do they get from that? A grateful wish for better health and a better life in the coming new year.
But the most cherished moment during Christmas is on... of course, Christmas Day. Well actually, the thrill starts on the morning of December 24, Christmas Eve. People get busy baking and cooking food in preparation for the Noche Buena! A lot of Filipinos would attend Misa de Gallo or Midnight Mass. This also marks the end and the final mass of simbang gabi (loosely translated as night mass ). Filipinos after that would cater to their pangs of hunger and thirst for good food like puto bumbong (a purple-colored rice pastry, seasoned with grated--coconut and brown sugar), tsokolate (a hot chocolate drink), bibingka (flour and egg cakes cooked with coals on top and bottom), and salabat, or ginger tea, which are sold to the faithful by vendors outside the different churches and parishes here in the Philippines.
Come 12:00 AM of December 25, children would wake up and see their gifts under the big Christmas tree. Almost a lot of the children would receive toys from the make-believe Santa Claus, while parents and other siblings would lovingly hug and greet each other "Merry Christmas" . It's indeed the most wonderful time of the year.
After ransacking Santa Claus' gifts, the whole family would proceed to the dining table and enjoy their Noche Buena. One would always find lechon, bibingka, hamon de bola, quezo de bola, spaghetti, fruits, pancit, lumpia, and rice on the table. Desserts sometimes include ice cream, coffee, pastries, and cakes. The adults would indulge in wine, liquor or beer to celebrate the essence of Christmas.
In conclusion, spending a Christmas in the Philippines with a Filipino family is awesome. But also, we should never forget that it's not all about the activities that we do during the lengthy time of the season. It's also that time we should remember the one who is the reason why we are celebrating Christmas. :-)
Happy holidays, everyone!
This is a post submitted by Community Member ethermoon .
written by ethermoon on 2010-12-24 #lifestyle #philippines #tradition #holidays #christmas #loving-the-season
rdetoyato , grazie , pattyequalsawesome , gelagoo , mandriva , cruzron , stouf , tallgrrlrocks , sergio_m , antibiotyx , novakmisi , icuresick , spoeker & chaoticsense .
maligayang pasko! feliz navidad! joyeux noel!
Maligayang pasko! :D
Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat!
Maligayang Pasko, kaibigan! =)
oh sweety! you always will go to bed knowing something more! this night from philipines!
maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!
maligaya sana ang naging pasko ninyo :) ang good idea ng mga supot ng icecandyyyy. makikigaya ako hehe :D
puro pinoy lang nag comment? hahahaha
I miss this type of celebration! Maligayang Pasko! :)
Woohooo, happy holidays to you ethermoon! And everyone on Lomography. Great article! <3 P.S. I laughed when you wrote about Christmas Carols being 65% Jose Mari Chan--that's quite true. haha :p
Celebrating a traditional Christmas in the Philippines involves a unique blend of cultural practices and customs.
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Sunday Essays: Christmas in the Philippines - Then and Now
FOR some countries, Christmas is only a one-day celebration during the month of December, but not in the Philippines. Out of all the number of festivals celebrated by Filipinos all over the country, Christmas is the longest one to be celebrated.
Even before the month of December arrives, Christmas songs are already being played on the radio or in the malls and Christmas trees, lights and decors are already sold in the market. This is how early the spirit of Christmas can be felt in the Philippines.
However, the yuletide season in the country really begins at the 16th up until the 24th day of the last month of the year where Misa de Gallo (Night Mass), a nine-day devotion which is usually done as early as 3 o’clock in the morning, starts.
Most of the time people are encouraged to participate in this series of “simbang gabi” because of the belief that if one completes the nine mornings of epiphany; one wish shall be granted to them.
Filipinos, just like the rest of the world, are fond of carolling during Christmas season too. Most of them are children who tend to ask for their “aginaldo” or Christmas present which is often cash and coins.
These Christmas parties which Filipinos are also fond of organizing are also classified in many celebrations.
The school and office party which is usually celebrated one week before Christmas is different from the party which is meant only for the family. These parties usually serve as a reunion wherein relatives outside the country reunite with their family here in the Philippines.
Most of the time, the local government, churches and even private institutions conduct fund raising Christmas contests like Parol (Christmas lantern) making, carolling and Christmas lights exhibition to be donated to an orphanage, school or hospital for example.
The most traditional and preferred way of how Filipinos celebrate this season is staying up late on 24th for the night-long party of the “Noche Buena”, a feast usually done on the Christmas eve with the family.
Ham, Queso de bola (Cheese) and lechon, three of the classic Pinoy Christmas food, are usually served this night.
However, this picture of how Filipinos celebrate Christmas has deepened more since the last three Decembers where the country suffered devastation brought by raging Christmas typhoons Sendong (2011), Ondoy (2012) and Yolanda (2013).
After these series of unfortunate events, the bazaar and extravagant celebration of Christmas became more frugal and meaningful.
Those people who used to go shopping with the use of their Christmas bonuses learned to set aside their wish lists to give way to the basic needs of those who were in need of help.
Meanwhile, those who follow the traditional simbang gabi, do not limit their prayers and wishes only to themselves but also to other people who are suffering crisis in their lives.
Other institutions, public or not, has also become more particular on how they will spend their hard-earned money. In fact, there are some companies and organizations who chose to gather all their cash bonuses to donate cash and kinds to the typhoon victims.
Some Filipinos who already planned on going home during the Christmas holiday decided to volunteer themselves on charity works like packing and distributing relief goods and donations instead of celebrating with their family.
Different institutions and organizations that used to do fund-raising charity events became more determined to raise money and find sponsors or donors to be given to the thousand homeless people in the remote areas.
Families who used to serve excessive servings of food during Noche Buena learned to limit their cooking and share the extra ones to others instead of leaving it spoiled on the fridge.
These are only a few positive changes on how Filipino Christmas celebration has become today.
The Philippines may not be among the list of the first world countries but celebrating Christmas here is one thing that this country will always be known for –celebrating Christmas not only for one’s self but for the whole country as well. (Necta Casiple)
Sunday Essays are articles written by Ateneo de Davao University students for their advanced journalism class.