Christmas in the Philippines

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Traditional Philippine Christmas Star Lantern

How Filipinos celebrate Christmas

The Philippines is known for having the world’s longest and merriest Christmas season. 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.

Parol

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.

Early Christmas Treat at Landers Superstore

Many people stay awake all night into Christmas day! During Christmas Eve evening, Christians go to church to hear the last ‘simbang gabi’ or the Christmas Eve mass. 

Simbang Gabi at the Cultural Center of the Philippines

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.

Noche Buena table
queso de bola and hamon

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.

Decorated Christmas Tree with Gifts

Wherever in the world, whatever the traditions may be, one thing is for sure: People love Christmas. Despite the variety of traditions, it’s still falls to being magical and memorable. The Philippines witnessed to that. Celebrating the most wonderful time of the year in this country is unlike any other.

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