Christmas: Filipino Version

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Christmas is probably the most celebrated and most joyous occasion in the world. When the “-ber” months start to hit, expect that the countdown for Christmas will start, too. Everything about this occasion sends a warm, tingling feeling in everyone’s hearts, despite the cool weather it brings. Yes, the Philippines and the Filipinos are no exception. In fact, I think that Filipinos elaborately embrace and celebrate, not just the day of Christmas, but the whole Christmas season.

Greatly influenced by the Catholicism of the Spaniards, Filipinos make it a point to complete the “9 Mornings,” which is also known as “Simbang Gabi” or “Misa de Gallo.” Expect the bells to ring at the wee hours of December 16 as it marks the start of the tradition. Discipline is no problem among the devoted Catholics, for the reason for these masses is much, much more fulfilling and important.

“Simbang gabi” will never, ever be complete without the “bibingka” and “puto bumbong,” which are our native delicacies. They make Christmas in the Philippines the Christmas. You rarely see them during the earlier months. But, once December, or even November, strikes, take your pick on the numerous stalls from which you will buy them.

Filipino tradition is, indeed, so rich, and is made even richer during the Christmas season. Aside from the adorable twinkling Christmas lights and exquisite decorations we see hanging on every house, gigantic “parols,” or Christmas lanterns, also make their marks in every neighborhood. Whoever said that Christmas is for the kids surely hit the nail right on the head. Every Christmas, children visit their godparents, in hopes of getting numerous presents. Do expect, also, to hear a flock of them standing outside your house, and singing different Christmas carols, matched with improvised instruments.

Christmas is truly a month- long celebration among Filipinos. The spirits of cheer and happiness resonate in every smile and laughter made, with the birth of Jesus Christ as the focal point of the momentous occasion. Indeed, these can be found only in the Philippines!

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