I originally came from the Philippines ( hence the not so perfect English grammar lol ) and it’s nice to remember memories of my childhood Christmas.
I was maybe about 8 or 10 years old when I find out that the Santa Claus behind all our Christmas presents is our mum. I saw her at midnight ( when she thought were all asleep ) putting presents in our Christmas stocking. But that didn’t ruin it, as i just went along with my mum and always get excited every festive season.
Christmas in the Philippines is definitely the most wonderful time of the year. You can start hearing Christmas carols being played in the shop around September. Although the formal Christmas celebration start on the 16th when many people go for the early morning mass which we called ( simbang gabi ) I can remember walking with my mum in the dark being wrap up with jackets and hat just to attend the mass early morning everyday until Christmas Day and that’s because we were brought up catholic and it became a family tradition. Christmas is the most important holiday in the Philippines and December is actually a cooler month though it’s nothing compare to the cold season here in the uk.
Around December, children or even adults can be seen going house to house and singing Christmas carols. They either just creative and bring any musical instrument with them or go as a group. After singing a Christmas carol they are usually given money or anything that the people can afford to give. I can remember my brother and I did this along with other children and then at the end we all get to share the money given to us.
Christmas customs in the Philippines are a mixture of western and native Filipino traditions. Santa Claus, Christmas trees and cards and Christmas carols are from western influence brought in by the Spanish and Portuguese when they travelled to our country.
However, we have our own Christmas tradition of using ” parol ” a frame with a lit star lantern on it. It’s the most popular Christmas display and decoration in the Philippines.
I can remember being awake all night into Christmas Day as if we’re having a countdown, that’s how important Christmas is in the Philippines. Also we go to the church for the last simbang gabi or Christmas Eve mass and followed by midnight feast or what we call ” noche buena ”
Noche buena is an open house celebration in which family and friends and even neighbours are welcome to join in. They often drop by with a food to share to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas. Most family have a several dish laid out. It’s always a buffet style where all food laid in the table and you just help yourself. Most food include ( lechon baboy ) roast pork, quezon de bola ( Filipino Spanish for ball of cheese ) also hamon or ham, noodles, pasta, fruit salad, cake, rice cake, puto bungbong, bibingka and many more. You can imagine loads of foods being serve at a Filipino household and it’s like a feast.
With Christmas presents, I must say it’s not the Center of the Christmas celebration in the Philippines. Not everyone can afford to buy Christmas present that we’re just grateful to whatever we received. We already consider ourself lucky back then if we have a food to put on the table. What I love about Christmas in the Philippines is the love, warmth, hospitality, generosity and unity of family celebrating together and sharing whatever they have to their extended family, friends and neighbour.
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