How Filipinos Celebrate Christmas

Mitchel Misa By Mitchel Misa, 2nd Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Culture

Christmas as I believe it to be is the day (December 25) when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This very festive, colorful and happy occasion is one of the most awaited by billions of us to come in a year.

Christmas in the Philippines

There are many ways of celebrating the birth of Christ in my country. In this page, I am going to share with you the unique ways of its celebration.
Here, when the first -BER month (September) is in, Filipinos begin to put up Christmas decorations in their houses. Also, in this month, you hear Christmas songs in households, streets, malls, restaurants - almost everywhere. That's how excited we are of this season. In malls and other business establishments, aside from the decorations and songs, sales (midnight sale is one of the most common and most exciting where people can still shop till 12 MN with usually up to 75% off on prices) and other promotions begin to be a trend.
Another thing that makes this season for the Filipinos a very much awaited one are the bonuses given to the workers. They commonly receive Midyear, Year-end and Christmas bonuses both national and local, 13th/14th month pay and more. I even come to think that these bonuses made December a season of shopping among Filipinos.
Aside from the extra pays, giving gifts to godchildren ("inaanak" - being sponsored during Christening) is a very common thing. These little children visit their godparents' houses to "claim" their gifts or godparents visit their inaanak's house to personally deliver their gifts. These godparents, ninong/ninang as we call them, usually are the closest friends of the parents who sponsored the child during his/her Christening. Of course, the godparents must be preparing these gifts before December 25 to avoid breaking the heart of the kids. It is best when the gifts are wrapped with Christmas wrappers with dedications on them.
Caroling or "Panaygon" is also a common scenario at any time of the day in Philippine neighborhoods. I was just wondering why many prefer night time as the best time to do this, even the young people. They bring their musical instruments, mostly improvised tambourines made of flattened soda caps nailed on a wooden handle. These are shaken by the "nanaygon" while singing to at least effect a merry rendition.
We also have this "9 Mornings of Christmas" or the traditional "Simbang Gabi". The genuine Filipino Christian's Christmas is not complete without attending 9 morning novena masses (usually at 4-5:30 a.m.). We believe that when one completes the 9 mornings, his/her prayers will be answered or granted. Many in fact testified this to be true, that's why, many also really try to follow.
In schools, parties are done before the students and teachers take their Christmas vacation (usually from 2nd week of December to first week of January). Students/pupils really get excited in this time of their school year. During the activity, students and teachers do the "Manito Manita" or exchanging gifts, where they prepare and give a gift to their assigned classmate on the day of the party. On this day too, they wear their best wardrobes and have to look great - the day is special for them. Foods and drinks are served. Games are also prepared for them where they can receive prizes. Students offer dances and songs to the whole group. After the classroom parties, the teachers and staff also spend a private time somewhere for their party. Again, they also have games, exchanging gifts, dancing,singing and merrymaking. Actually, one can attend more than five parties the whole season all of which having more or less same flow of activities.
On the night of December 24, families either stay in the house together or attend Misa de Gallo or the mass celebrated on Christmas Eve, as their way of welcoming the Nativity of Christ.
Finally, on Christmas Eve, all members of the family must be intact inside the house spending their time eating, lighting fireworks/firecrackers, singing - just spending a happy hour with the family. Foods are usually served on the dinner table for the entire family or for visitors when they happen to come and visit. After that, children are then allowed to visit their friends in the neighborhood to also spend happy times with them on this special day.
These are some of the most common Christmas scenario in the Philippines.
We celebrate very long Christmas. Filipinos are happy people despite the challenges we face in our country. We find ways to make our families happy and intact despite our humble incomes. I guess, this culture we share with the world in a way has helped us a lot in upholding resilience and optimism amidst various tribulations that come our ways.


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Meet the author

author avatar Mitchel Misa
I write my heart away. I express my views of the world and of life usually this way. It feels great when I get to share a different view of certain issues to others. Thanks to those read my works!

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author avatar Nancy LaPierre
5th Dec 2014 (#)

This was very interesting reading. I enjoyed the warmth it made me feel while reading about Christmas in another country.

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author avatar Mitchel Misa
6th Dec 2014 (#)

Thank you Nancy LaPierre for spending a few minutes of your precious time reading my simple work.

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