Yoohoo ! Merry Christmas everyone ! This Christmas is soooo special to me because this is our 1st Christmas ♥ Hope there is more Christmas for us to be celebrate together.
We Filipino's celebrate our Christmas a little different from other countries. Christmas season is the most awaited celebration for us, the Filipino people. It is the best time of the year for Filipinos who worked overseas, and those who migrated to other countries to visit their homeland, the Philippines and spend holidays with their loved ones. Young and old are excited when Christmas season comes. Everybody is busy decorating their houses and offices with sparkling "parol" or lanterns, putting colorful Christmas lights, preparing for Christmas party, buying and wrapping of gifts, cooking different recipes for relatives and friends to partake, travel to other provinces to visit relatives, enjoying the holidays with loved ones. We celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world. As soon as it is “Ber” ( as in SeptemBER”), festive Christmas carols begin to play on the radio, and Christmas decorations begin to appear. Christmas trees begin to appear a bit later, around the second or third week of November ( just before the US Thanksgiving holidays ) The Christmas song play until Three Kings Day ( first Sunday of January) and the decorations stay even longer, sometimes up to February.
This is how we celebrate our Christmas:
- Play Filipino Christmas songs
- Decorate homes and offices with Christmas lights, lanterns.
- Prepare for Christmas parties. Common activities include Monito/Monita (Kris Kringle), musical or theatrical performances and parlor games.
- Begin spending 13th month pay by going Christmas shopping
- Go “karoling” or serenade neighbors, friends and benefactors with Christmas carols to spread holiday cheers.
- Reward carolers with cash and/or snacks.
- Attend "Simbang gabi”, which is a daily Mass for nine days, held at dawn, beginning December 16.
- When available, eat puto bumbong (sticky rice steamed inside a "bumbong," or small bamboo tube), "bibingka" (rice cake with salted eggs and fresh coconut meat) and "suman" (steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves) outside the church. Wash them down by drinking steaming “salabat” (ginger brew), tsokolate ( native chocolate drink) or coffee.
- Celebrate with numerous Christmas parties and start your gift-giving.
December 24 - Bisperas ng Pasko (Christmas Eve)
- In the provinces, watch the "Panunuluyan" in the town plaza on Christmas Eve. This is a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem to portrays the difficulty they encountered along the way and the joyous birth of Jesus Christ.
- Attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Nowadays, several masses are held on Christmas Eve to accommodate everyone, but the most attended is the last mass before midnight.
- Gather with friends and relatives for "Noche Buena" at midnight, and feast on “jamon” ( ham ), “quezo de bola” ( quedam cheese ball ), bibingka ( rice cake ) and sopas ( soup, normally with macaroni noodles ) and pandesal (soft bread) or “tasty” ( sliced bread ) This festive meal is followed by the exchange of gifts.
December 25 (Christmas Day)
- Arrange to visit family and friends on Christmas Day. Eat “Noche Buena” leftovers. Exchange more gifts.
Preferably in the morning, Filipinos typically visit members of the extended family, especially to pay respects to their elders. This custom of giving respect has been an age-old tradition in the Philippines called "Pagmamáno", which is done by bringing the elder's hand to one's forehead, while saying the phrase Máno Pô (lit. "Hand, please"). The elder then blesses the person who has given their respect, and in return gives "Aguinaldo", or money in the form of crisp, fresh-from-the-bank bills is given after the Pagmamano, mostly to younger children. Godparents are especially socially obligated to give presents or Aguinaldo to their godchildren. A Christmas Lunch usually follows after the "Pagmamano". The menu is heavily dependent upon the finances of the family, with richer families preparing grand feasts, while poorer families choose to cook simple yet special dishes. Some families choose to open presents on this day after the lunch.
When nighttime falls, members of the family usually return home or linger to drink, or playing parlor games and Disco Party. Some may opt to have another feast for dinner. Some families spend the entire day at home to rest after the previous days' festivities.
December 28 (Niños Inocentes)
- Tease your friends by trying to borrow money and playing pranks on December 28, the “Ninos Inocentes” or Feast of the Innocent’s Day.
December 31 - Bisperas ng Bagong Taon (New Year's Eve)
- Buy round fruits and dress in clothes with lots of circles (circles to represent money) and carry some cash on New Year’s Eve to bring riches in the coming year.
- Just before midnight, make lots of noise to drive away the bad luck and the Old Year, and light “lusis” (sparklers), “kwitis” (fireworks) and “rebentador” (firecrackers, mini-bombs) to welcome good luck and the New Year.
Filipinos make noise both to greet the New Year and in the belief that the din casts out malevolent spirits. In spite of the yearly ban, people in most towns and cities light firecrackers, with safer methods of merrymaking being banging on pots and pans and blowing car horns. Other traditions and beliefs include encouraging children to jump at the stroke of midnight to increase their height; displaying circular fruit; wearing clothes with dots and other circular designs to symbolise money; eating twelve grapes at midnight for good luck in the twelve months of the year, and opening all windows and doors on New Year's Day to let in blessings.
- Gather again with friends and relatives for "Noche Buena" after midnight to feast on a “lechon” ( roast pig ), “lechon manok” (roast chicken) and other delicacies. This sumptious first meal will hopefully bring more good meals throughout the New Year.
- Drink and be merry the rest of the night.
- Attend mass. The holiday season officially draws to a close on the Feast of the Three Kings on the first Sunday of January.
- Take down those Christmas decorations and start counting: 350 or so days till the next Christmas…
Let me remind two things about Christmas:
- It's Jesus' birthday, not Santa's.
- It's being happy for Jesus' birth, not acting pathetic for being single.