Right after Halloween is celebrated in November, the next anticipated occassion and well-loved at that, is the holiday season. The Philippines is known for having one of the most extended and festive Christmas celebrations in the world. Unlike many countries, where Christmas festivities last for a day or two, the Philippines embraces the holiday season with open arms and extends the merriment for several months. As soon as the “ber” months roll in, jingle bells replace pop songs over the airwaves and the country transforms into a wonderland filled with holiday cheer.
This enchanting Christmas tradition is deeply rooted in Filipino culture and is filled with delicious food, lively festivities, and an overwhelming spirit of love and togetherness enjoyed with family and friends. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the Philippines’ extended Christmas celebration and discover the unique traditions that make it truly special.
Celebrating the longest Christmas in the world
In the Philippines, Christmas is not just a day or a week-long celebration. It is a season that stretches for several months, starting as early as September and lasting until January. This extended Christmas celebration is a reflection of the Filipinos’ strong connection to their faith and their desire to spread joy and happiness to others.
One of the primary reasons for the extended Christmas celebration in the Philippines is the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Being a predominantly Catholic country, the Filipinos view Christmas as a religious holiday to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. The celebration begins with the traditional “Simbang Gabi,” or “Night Mass,” that takes place from December 16th to December 24th. The Misa de Gallo or dawn masses, are attended by devout Catholics as a way of preparing for the birth of Jesus.
Unique Christmas Traditions That Make the Filipino Christmas Special
Filipino Christmas traditions are what make the holiday season truly special and enchanting. One of the iconic symbols of the Christmas season is the Christmas tree. However, unlike the typical evergreen trees or decorated trees , Filipinos use parol, a star-shaped lantern made of bamboo and paper, as the centerpiece and the iconic symbol for their decorations. These parols are beautifully adorned with colorful lights and can be seen hanging outside houses, schools, and even in public spaces, creating a breathtaking sight.
Christmas is a season of giving, and the Filipinos take this tradition to heart. It is common for Filipino families to exchange gifts and engage in acts of charity the week leading to Christmas time. The act of gift-giving is a symbol of love and appreciation, and it brings joy to both the giver and the receiver, whether its just simple holiday cards or christmas cards and small gift.
A unique tradition that Filipinos practice during Christmas is the exchange of gifts. Known as “Monito-Monita,” where each one becomes a “secret Santa Claus,” this activity involves drawing names among family members, friends, or colleagues and secretly giving gifts to the person whose name was drawn. This tradition adds excitement and anticipation to the holiday season as everyone tries to find the perfect gift for their chosen recipient.
Festive parades, fun concerts, and cultural performances take place throughout the holiday season, showcasing the rich traditions and talents of the Filipino people. Whether it’s joining a Christmas carol group or attending the Simbang Gabi (Night Mass), there are countless opportunities to immerse oneself in the vibrant festivities and experience the true essence of a Filipino Christmas.
Exploring the Enchanting Christmas Displays in the Philippines
The Philippines is famous for its extravagant and enchanting Christmas displays that attract both locals and tourists alike. Popular destinations during the holiday season is the city of Baguio and Pampanga, known as the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” Here, visitors can witness a dazzling display of lights and decorations, transforming the city into a Christmas wonderland.
Another must-visit location during the Christmas season is the province of Pampanga, particularly in San Fernando City, where the Giant Lantern or “Ligligan Parul” Festival is held. This festival showcases massive lanterns, measuring up to 20 feet in diameter and beautifully adorned with intricate designs and vibrant colors. The synchronized patterns and twinkling lights of these lanterns create a mesmerizing spectacle that is truly enchanting.
Delicious Filipino Christmas Feast
One of the highlights of the Filipino Christmas season is the delectable array of traditional food that graces every dining table. From mouthwatering lechon (roast pig) to bibingka (rice cake) and puto bumbong (purple rice cake), Filipino cuisine takes center stage during the holiday season.
The entire house come together to prepare these special delicacies, often using age-old recipes passed down through generations. The aroma of freshly cooked food fills the air, adding to the festive ambiance. The traditonal hot chocolate called “baterol” is a favorite Christmas drink, especially of kids, and a must in every Christmas party. The Filipinos’ love for food is evident during Christmas, as they indulge in hearty feasts that bring joy and satisfaction to every household.
The Spirit of Giving, Togetherness and Family
Filipino families go above and beyond to ensure that everyone feels the holiday cheer, even in the smallest of ways. They embody the spirit of generosity by extending their love and kindness to those in need, making the Christmas season a truly magical and heartwarming experience.
Christmas is a time for family reunions and strengthening bonds. In the Philippines, the importance of family is deeply ingrained in the culture, and Christmas is no exception. Filipino families make every effort to gather together on Christmas Eve for a meal, or “noche buena,” and Christmas Day, regardless of the distance or challenges they may face.
They come together to share a festive meal, exchange stories and laughter, and create lasting memories. The strong sense of togetherness and family during the extended Christmas celebration in the Philippines is a testament to the deep-rooted values and traditions that shape Filipino society.
The extended Christmas celebration in the Philippines is a testament to the Filipinos’ love for the holiday season. Combining religious traditions, unique customs, and enchanting displays makes Christmas in the Philippines a truly magical experience.
Whether it’s attending the early morning masses, exchanging gifts through the Monito-Monita tradition, or marveling at the breathtaking parols and lanterns, the Philippines offers an enchanting Christmas experience that is like no other.
So, immerse yourself in the holiday cheer, embrace the winter solstice, and experience the joy of the Philippines’ extended Christmas celebration. Merry Christmas, everyone!
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