Filipinos celebrate Christmas season as early as September, so it is not surprising that Philippines hold the record for the longest Christmas celebration worldwide.
Many Filipinos living and working abroad come home during Christmas just to celebrate with their family, as part of their Christmas traditions and simply because Christmas in the Philippines is different. Let me enumerate the many reasons why it is different compare to other countries.
Below are just few of what Filipinos do in keeping with the tradition during Christmas.
- In the Philippines, Christmas songs started playing in radios as early as September since it is the start of the “ber” month. The month of September is actually the signal that Christmas is coming and so many Filipinos would start preparing already, because the countdown has begun.
- It is also traditional for Filipinos to start decorating their homes with traditional Parol, a lantern shaped in star that becomes even more colorful when lighted. As said before, as soon as the “ber” month hits many vendors and stores would start selling Parol.
- Native foods like puto bumbong, bibingka and suman also become common outside many catholic churches, as vendors start selling these traditional Christmas foods.
- Attending the “Misa De Galo” or “Simbang Gabi” is another Filipino Christmas traditions. The Misa de galo is a mass held before the dawn starting December 16 and the official start of the traditional 9-day novena mass. Many Filipinos believe that completing the 9 day mass would bring them blessings throughout the year.
- Carolers or cumbancheros are also common during Christmas. These days, carolers are not just seen visiting homes serenading homeowners, but they can be seen in malls and the streets as well singing to drivers of private vehicle and public Jeepneys.
- Watching the “Panunuluyan” a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph searching for a place to stay to give birth to Jesus, while on their journey back to Bethlehem is another Filipino Christmas traditions.
- The most popular Filipino Christmas traditions are the “Noche Buena” a gathering of family and friends, where a festive meal and exchanging of gifts done at 12midnight.
- The “Noche Buena” is also not complete without the traditional Christmas ham, quezon de bola, lechon (roasted pig) and other native Filipino dishes.
- Family visits and children visiting their godfather and godmother to ask for gifts are another Filipino Christmas traditions.
- Attending the mass held on the first Sunday of the first month of the New Year for the “Feast of the kings” is also a Filipino tradition. The mass is also the official end of the holiday season, the time when Christmas decorations put down and stored again.