How is Christmas Celebrated in The Philippines?
The Philippines is a country that knows how to celebrate Christmas! From the decorations to the food, everything about this holiday is festive! In this post, we'll take a closer look at what makes Filipino Christmas celebrations so special. Stay tuned for some fun facts and traditions!
How do Filipinos celebrate Christmas today?
Traditionally, the Christmas holiday season may last anywhere between 12-30 days depending on your culture and how you like to celebrate Christmas. I mean there is even a song called 'The 12 Days of Christmas'. However, Filipinos take this to a whole different level. One of the things that makes the Filipino Christmas celebration so unique is the fact that it begins in September, the start of the "ber" months! That's right, Filipinos start preparing for Christmas early - and they don't stop until the holiday is over. Some people say that the reason for this is because the Philippines is a tropical country, and December is actually one of the busiest months for Filipinos. By starting the celebrations early, they can avoid the rush and enjoy the holiday at a more leisurely pace. However, business is still open with most businesses closing down from December 24th until January 1st, and families typically spend this time together.
Religion has played a significant role in shaping Filipino Christmas celebrations with approximately 80% of the Filipino population being Catholic. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, and Christianity was introduced to the islands by Spanish missionaries in the 16th century. Since then, religious traditions have been an important part of Christmas celebrations in the Philippines.
One of the most popular traditions during this time is called "Simbang Gabi." This refers to a series of nine dawn masses that are held in the days leading up to Christmas. The masses start at around 4 a.m. and are usually held outdoors so that worshippers can gaze up at the stars as they pray. After attending these masses, people often head home to enjoy a hearty breakfast with their families. This tradition is centuries old, and for many Filipinos, it is an essential part of their Christmas celebration.
Simbang Gabi being celebrated at St. John Bosco Parish in Makati City
So, Filipinos are crazy about Christmas. Wait until you see their houses! A beloved tradition is decorating houses with "parol." These are star-shaped lanterns that are made from bamboo and paper. They come in all different sizes and colors, and they are often hung in windows or from porches. The sight of them brings joy to everyone who sees them. They symbolize the guiding star of Bethlehem and are often seen hung up in windows and doorways.
'Maligayang Pasko!' means 'Merry Christmas!' in Filipino. You can also say, 'Happy Holidays!' or 'Happy New Year!'
Whatever the reason, there's no denying that Filipino Christmas is a special and festive time! From the food to the decorations, everything about this celebration is truly unique. If you're lucky enough to be in the Philippines during Christmas, make sure to take part in the festivities! You won't regret it!
What is the History of Christmas in the Philippines?
Christmas in the Philippines has a long and rich history. The holiday has been celebrated in the country since the 16th century when Spanish missionaries first arrived on the islands. The first Spanish missionaries who came to the Philippines were led by Fray Juan de Plasencia and Fray Diego de Oropesa. They arrived in 1565 and quickly began introducing Christianity to the locals. One of the first things they did was teach them about Christmas and its importance with the early years of Christmas in the Philippines were heavily influenced by Spanish culture and Christmas traditions. This is evident in some of the traditions that are still practiced today, such as the nine dawn masses known as "Simbang Gabi." However, over time, Filipino Christmas celebrations have come to be their own unique blend of Western and Eastern influences.
A couple dances in front of a Church on an Old Christmas card from The Philippines
What are some delicious Filipino Christmas foods?
Christmas in the Philippines wouldn't be complete without some delicious food! One of the most popular dishes during this time is "hamonado." This dish is made by cooking ham in a sweet and sour sauce. It's often served with steamed rice and vegetables. Another popular dish is "pork adobo." This is a stew made with pork, vinegar, garlic, and soy sauce. It's usually served with rice and can be quite spicy. If you're looking for something sweet, you'll love "bibingka." This is a type of cake that is made with coconut milk, eggs, and brown sugar. It's often served with ice cream or condensed milk. And of course, no Filipino Christmas would be complete without some "fruit salad." This dish is made with a variety of fruits, such as pineapple, grapes, and apples. It's often served as a side dish or dessert.
Christmas dinner in The Philippines with Lechon
Lechon is a type of roasted pork dish that is popular in the Philippines. It's often served at special occasions, such as Christmas. The pork is marinated in a mixture of spices and then slow-roasted over an open fire. This gives the lechon its signature crispy skin. When it's done, the lechon is typically served with a dipping sauce, such as vinegar or soy sauce. It's also common to see lechon served with rice and beans. If you're lucky enough to try this dish, you'll understand why Filipinos love it so much!
How to Have a Perfect Filipino Christmas
3:30 am Wake up early and attend a Simbang Gabi mass. These are nine dawn masses that are held in the days leading up to Christmas.
7:00 am Come home and enjoy a delicious breakfast of Hamonado, pork adobo, or Bibingka.
9:00 am Spend time with family and friends. This is often the time when gifts are exchanged.
11:00 am Head out to see the beautiful Christmas lights and decorations around town.
4:30 pm Enjoy a festive dinner of Lechon, fruit salad, and other traditional Filipino dishes.
11:00 pm Attend a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. This is a special mass that is held at midnight on December 24th.
12:30 pm Come home and enjoy a glass of hot chocolate or coffee. Then, it's time to go to bed and wait for Santa Claus!
7:00 am Wake up early on Christmas morning and open your presents.
12:00 pm Spend the day relaxing with family and friends. Enjoy a traditional Filipino feast for lunch or dinner.
5:00 pm End the day by attending a fireworks display. This is a popular way to celebrate Christmas in the Philippines.
Filipinos have a unique way of celebrating Christmas that is definitely worth experiencing at least once in your life! The food, the decorations, and the general atmosphere are all something special. If you're lucky enough to be in the Philippines during Christmas, be sure to take part in all the festivities! You won't regret it! How will you be celebrating Christmas this year?
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