Merry Christmas and Happy New Year All!
Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon sa Lahat!
How do Filipinos celebrate Christmas? You'll be amazed. Here is my blog post for that.
Christmas celebration is one of the most awaited event by millions of Christians around the world and of course, of the Filipinos here in the Philippines. Many says that Philippines has the longest Christmas celebration among any other nations on earth. How true?
As early as September, people are already decorating their houses with "parol" or lanterns, flashing lights, hanging bells, "belen" or a manger where Jesus, Mary, Joseph and several animals are gathered, and more stuffs that resemble the spirit of Christmas. September is also the month when TV and radio stations are starting to count down the number of days before Christmas.
By October and November, people are already busy listing down their Christmas wishes including new toys to buy for their "inaanak" (godson/goddaughter), clothes to wear during parties, menus to put on the table, and more stuffs that will make their Christmas happy and fun. You can see how busy people are from almost all part of the country - busy with shopping!
Caroling and Night Mass
As the December cold wind starts to blow, Christmas spirit is in the air. People play Christmas songs. Caroling, which is another Filipino tradition of choral singing in the streets, is done everywhere. From kids, to teens to even adults, all has a version of "Jingle Bells" and "Feliz Navidad".
The "Simbang Gabi" (Night Mass) starts at December 15. The original tradition of Simbang Gabi happens as early as four o'clock in the morning when it's still too cold to wake up and walk from home to church. Today, night mass is already being celebrated from six o'clock in the evening to around twelve midnight. However, what's great about sacrificing just to attend the night mass is that you can eat fresh and hot local delicacies like "puto bongbong", "bibingka" and the hot "salabat" or ginger tea - it will keep you awake while going back home. There is an old belief about Simbang Gabi which still holds true today. They say that completing the nine night masses will make your Christmas wish be granted. How interesting that is!
On Christmas Day
At the exact day of Christmas, December 25, millions of Filipinos go to the church to hear mass. And the fun doesn't yet end there. The "inaanak" will go to their "ninong" and "ninang" (godmother/godfather) to ask for their "mano" or gesture of bless, and of course, to ask for a Christmas present or "pamasko". Some people call it "aginaldo" which is either a blessing in the form of cash or in kind.
The whole day of Christmas is about family bonding. That means more singing, more picture taking, more eating, and more great happenings in every homes. Shopping malls like SM (Here's an info about SM: Why Filipinos Love SM?) are open and almost everybody is here. Kids are playing the game hubs while the oldies are buying their wish lists.
Believe it or not, Christmas is very much alive even on penitentiaries and hospitals. Oh, by the way, Christmas celebration in the Philippines extends up to New Year's Day. What? That's really long!
It's More than a Celebration - It's a Tradition
Christmas in the Philippines is absolutely a one of a kind tradition in the face of this planet. What I've just mentioned is only half of story of the entire celebration. The Santa Claus, the concert of celebrities, the games in every town and city, the Christmas parties of every company, the give-aways from suppliers, the Christmas gimmicks, the film festival and a lot of more Christmas events is going to be another long story to be told. And don't forget about the "lechon" or grilled whole pig, keso de bola, fruit salad, kaldereta, pancit and ham. That's a whole fun of eating!
Christmas is Giving Back
And I think it is also good to tell that Christmas is also the time when street kids, tribes from the mountains, and poor and needy people are everywhere asking for "pamasko". Christmas is for everybody and it's both fun and sometimes will make your cry out of happiness and sympathy. As what the church leaders are saying, "Christmas is about loving, sharing and giving". And I think that's true.
If you're not a resident of the Philippines and you want to know what really Christmas celebration is all about in the country, better pay a visit here. When someone greets you Merry Christmas int the airport, it has a hidden meaning. What is it? It's for you to find out.
Meaning of Christmas
Well, Christmas is from the words Christ and Mass (Try to also read my post about this topic: Christmas is Jesus Christ Mass – Does Holding a Party Makes Sense?). It's about Jesus Christ, the son of God. I don't fully understand why Christmas is a world tradition despite of the different religions some of which are not a believer of Christ. Yes, some non-Christians will greet you "Merry Christmas" from the bottom of their hearts. Like the Chinese New Year, even Filipinos who are not Chinese or Buddhist join the celebration in China Town (Check out this post: A Visit to China Town in the City of Manila). Christmas may mean Christians celebrating Jesus Christ's coming to the earth but we should always remember that it is a celebration of brotherhood and sisterhood among us.
May the spirit of Christmas be with us all. May the coming new year 2018 becomes another great year for all of us.
About this Blog
ProjectPilipinas.com is blog campaign for positive changes to happen in the Philippines and benefit the Filipinos. There are obviously wrong doings going on in this country. They cannot be solved in one day, one month, one year, or even one term of a President. But if anyone will start and do their part, the good change can happen anytime, for at least to the only place where the bad thing is happening.
This post about Christmas in the Philippines is the author's (Noriel Panganiban, founder of Knowriel.com) way of encouraging everyone, Filipinos or not, to deeply understand the true reason why we celebrate Christmas. That is, we should retain the good values, but leave behind the bad ways or beliefs. For more information about this campaign, please explore more (and share) this blog site. You can be a part of the change by sharing this post.