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Christmas in September: Feel the Warmth of a Filipino Christmas

by April Mycenae Christmas in the Philippines is one of the world's longest and most lavish holiday celebrations. It typically begins in September, when you hear Christmas songs and carols in shops and on the radio, giving rise to the Philippines' "Ber Months" phenomenon.

I love everything about Christmas; from Christmas songs, decorations, and overall Christmas spirit.

Here are some key aspects of how Christmas is celebrated in the Philippines:

Extended Celebration

Start of Christmas Season: The festive mood kicks off in September and gains momentum leading up to December.

Simbang Gabi: A series of nine dawn masses starting from December 16th, leading up to Christmas Eve, this tradition reflects the religious nature of the celebration.

Christmas Decorations: Colorful and bright decorations, like the parol (a star-shaped lantern), are ubiquitous. Homes, streets, and buildings are decked with these lanterns and Christmas lights.

Unique Filipino Traditions

Parol: The iconic lantern is traditionally made from bamboo and paper and symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem.

Noche Buena: A grand family feast that takes place at midnight after the Christmas Eve mass. Traditional dishes such as lechon (roast pig), queso de bola (edam cheese), hamon (Christmas ham), and various rice cakes are served.

Monito Monita: A Filipino version of Secret Santa, where people exchange gifts during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Panunuluyan: A reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for a place to stay, performed on Christmas Eve.

Food and Festivities

Christmas Cuisine: Foods such as bibingka and puto bumbong, which are rice cakes, become widely available and are commonly eaten after Simbang Gabi.

Christmas Parties and Gatherings: It's common for companies, friends, and families to hold parties with lots of food, games, singing, and dancing.

Christmas Bazaars and Shopping: Night markets and bazaars pop up, offering a wide array of goods from decorations to holiday gifts.

Religious Overtones

Religious Devotion: As a predominantly Catholic country, Filipinos attend church services throughout the Christmas season.

"Panunuluyan": Dramatizations of the Holy Family's journey are common, as well as live Nativity scenes in various localities.

Social Aspects

Charity and Sharing: Filipinos often share their blessings by giving to the less fortunate and participating in charity drives.

Family Reunions: Many overseas Filipino workers strive to return home for Christmas, making it a time for family reunions.

Post-Christmas Celebration

New Year’s Eve: The festive spirit continues with media noche, the New Year’s Eve feast.

Three Kings’ Day: Celebrated on the first Sunday of January, it officially closes the Christmas season.

The blend of festive joy, religious piety, and communal spirit make Christmas in the Philippines a vibrant and culturally rich experience. For Filipinos, it's a cornerstone of cultural identity and a testament to the value they place on family, faith, and community celebration. Merry Christmas everyone!

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