With 80% of the population of Christians, Philippines is the only country in Asia with so many Christians due to which Filipinos stands on the top when it comes to Christmas celebrations as no one can celebrate Christmas as long as they by adorn their establishments, streets, and houses with colorful lights and Christmas trees. They started Christmas celebration when “ber” months hits the calendar and do merry traditions to make their Christmas the most joyous time of the year that is full of traditions, colors, lively activities and so forth, however, the formal traditions start from 16th December and last at the Christmas Day.
Starting from 16th December Simabang Gabi is a nine-day running mass to pray and worship, which is also referred as Misa de Gallo, and it is the longest tradition done in the Philippines to honor the Virgin Mary and the farmer who woke up early in the morning in Spanish colonization to finish their work before noon to avoid sun heat. During these nine days, people used to wake up early in the morning to attend masses as they believe that this will fulfill their one wish for sure. After attending this people move towards stalls to treat their taste buds with delicious food and drinks including bibingka and puto bumbong and ginger tea.
In the Philippines, people celebrate Christmas by singing songs with the help of hand made instruments such as tambourines made up of aluminum bottle cap and drums made up of milk cans. Caroling usually starts in September when children and young adults used to roam around the streets of the Philippines and sing Christmas songs and the interesting thing is that anyone can join these groups. Then they move towards the different homeowners to collect charity from them and after taking donations they used to say thanks to them by chanting or singing a special song.
Belen is a popular and iconic decoration in the Philippines, which also takes place in many other western nations through which they demonstrate the Holy family the birth of Jesus. These are usually showcased in churches, schools, offices, and parks. Belen is displayed until the feast of Epiphany, which shows the end of the Christmas season.
It is the most prominent tradition in Philippine to greet Christmas in which children and adults used to visit their grandparents in new and finest clothes in addition to this they learn old tradition to show respect to elders such as “mano” in which elders touch foreheads of young ones with hands. Moreover, children received rewards from their grandparents in the form of money, candies, and toys. These presents are called as Aguinaldo.
Monito-Monita is an adaptation of “Secret Santa” in which people usually at offices, schools and houses used to exchange gifts although each participant has his or her own anonymous gift and the identities of both taker and giver of gift revealed later.
These star-shaped lanterns, Parols are traditionally made of Japanese paper and bamboo and are illuminated with kalburo or candles were actually created by an artisan in 1928, Parols are also referred to as Christmas lanterns which were initially made to help villagers find their way to churches and chapels to worship and pray. Making Christmas lanterns and hanging them outside is a depiction of the guidance of the star of Bethlehem to the manager of the newly born Jesus Christ. Nowadays, these parols are used to enhance the spirits of Christmas and putting them up at home, school and offices is a common tradition in Philippine.
Similar to Mexican Posadas Panunuluyan is a common tradition in the Philippines that is observed in the various provinces of the Philippine on the eve before Christmas where the journey of Joseph and Mary is re-enacted while Mary being pregnant. This event is attended by two hundred plus youngsters every year however the evening starts at 6 pm and begins with a rosary and followed by a prayer.
Honestly, Noche Buena is the most anticipated Christmas event for Philipinos which is celebrated after the midnight masses or on Christmas eve. In this event, they used to attend a family dinner and treat their buds with delicious dishes including ham, pencit, queso de bola, Lechon and many more.
Christmas in the Philippines extended until the journey and on the 6th of January to mark the end of the Christmas season, Three Kings is celebrated in the Philippines which is a religious event attended by a mass every year. These three kings event is also referred to as “Pasko ng matatanda” in the Philippines.
In most countries, Christmas celebrations usually end on the 25th of December or the beginning of the new year but in the Philippines, Christmas celebrations end with the feast of epiphany or three kings which is a religious event that marks the end of the Christmas season in the Philippines. After this, the popular Christmas decorations such as parols and Belen removed from the streets.
So, these are 10 unique traditions that Filipinos used to follow to greet Christmas, these traditions of the Philippines demonstrate that they do lively, colorful, twinkling and bright Christmas celebrations to make Christmas season remarkable.
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