Christmas in Philippines

Christmas season in the Philippines is always a festive occasion. The Christmas season in the country normally begins after the All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebration during the 1st and 2nd of November respectively. As early as November Christmas trees are typically put up and decorated in every home. Since pine trees are not common in the country, Filipinos would normally buy plastic pine trees and adorn them with ornaments such as balls, stars, flowers, and lights. The Nativity scene or "Belen", depicting the birth of Jesus Christ, is also one of the focal points in any Filipino home during Christmas. Christmas lanterns or "parols" are hung in patios and verandas, symbolizing the star which guided the three kings into finding the infant Jesus in Bethlehem.

Another unique feature of Christmas in the Philippines is the "Simbang Gambi". This tradition basically consists of nine consecutive masses celebrated at early dawn, usually at 4:00 am to 5:00 am. This series of consecutive masses begins in the 16th of December and ends on the 24th of the same month, during the Christmas Eve. According to the patrons of the "Simbang Gabi", those who complete every single one of the nine consecutive masses will have their respective Christmas wishes granted.

The Christmas season in the Philippines is also usually celebrated through many parties, reunions, and get-togethers. All throughout the month of December, old friends meet up to give each other gifts, officemates, and colleagues hold parties to relax and have fun, and family members and relatives meet up for annual reunions. Even students take the time to dress up for their Christmas parties at school. Essentially, the month of December is the month of parties and reunions for most Filipinos.

If western traditions tend to celebrate Christmas through a Christmas day lunch or dinner on the 25th of December, in the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th or the eve of Christmas Day. Families hear mass together on the evening of the 24th in preparation of the midnight dinner and celebration.

The midnight dinner is called the "Noche Buena", where family and friends gather together over a feast of ham, pit roast pig or lechon, desserts, and other delicious fares. Once midnight strikes, dinner is usually served, gifts are exchanged and opened, and fireworks are lighted to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Friends and family visit each other's homes and relatives meet up again to greet each other and dine together.

Filipinos hold the highest importance for families and celebrations, and the Christmas season is no exception. The celebration normally lasts all throughout the New Year, when families gather on New Year's Eve again to welcome another fulfilling, exciting, and blessed year.

by nash 2009/12/23
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