Did you know that the Christmas season in the Philippines is among the longest celebration in the world? Filipinos like to extend the season as much as they can.
Firstly, the “Ber” months typically mark the start of the Christmas season (September, October and November). Christmas trees, Nativity sets and dazzling lights are displayed in homes and buildings all over the nation, anticipating the most wonderful time of the year.
Secondly, the Filipinos´ love of music is well known. So popular songs and carols are also a typical Christmas tradition.
One well-loved Christmas custom is caroling. Typically, groups of children sing carols while knocking on doors at night. They sing along to their favourite Christmas songs while playing instruments built from soda cans or tin can lids, such as maracas and tambourines. After being paid for their efforts by the owner of the house, the children finish with a thanksgiving song.
Thirdly, there is a special novena. Simbang Gabi is a nine-day series of Masses that Filipinos attend during the Christmas season. It runs from the 16th of December to Christmas Eve. It is said that if you complete your Simbang Gabi attendance, your wish will be granted.
Filipinos appreciate the delicacies sold at the Church’s stalls as well. They particularly enjoy eating bibingka (rice cake cooked in clay pots) and puto bumbong (a purple rice cake cooked inside a bamboo tube) after going to Mass.
Fourthly, Filipino families gather for a Christmas Eve supper known as Noche Buena. It’s that time of year again, when families cook their favorite foods like, spaghetti, queso de bola (Spanish for Edom Cheese), pancit, etc.
Finally, Filipinos enjoy giving and receiving presents amongst friends and relatives. When done with humour, gift-giving can be more fun. Christmas is a season for meeting again with loved ones, family, and friends. It is one of the times that children eagerly anticipate for their Aguinaldo or gifts.
Furthermore, Filipino Christmas, can be celebrated whether you are physically present in the Philippines or not. Whether you were born, grew up in, or only visited the Philippines at certain points in your life, it has shaped who you are.
Pia Mejía SMY