Christmas Traditions in Philippine
Christmas is a fiesta, and in the Philippines it is the most anticipated, and therefore longest, one there is in the world. Starting on December 16th and continuing non-stop throughout the month, celebrations don’t end until The Feast of the Three Kings which is usually the first Sunday of January. Since the Philippines is predominantly Christian, while it’s the exact opposite in the other countries surrounding it, Christmas is an important holiday for the majority of the population. Simbang Gabi, or Misa De Galla is the midnight mass. A catholic custom, people gather to celebrate the Eucharist in the early morning hours for all nine days before Christmas. The signal for the start of it is the ringing of the church bells every night after midnight on December 15th. At the end of Simbang Gabi on the morning of the 24th, preparations begin for the family feast that will start at midnight.
The Filipino people have taken western cultures (Christmas trees, caroling, and Santa) and adapted them to fit their unique style of celebration. An open house celebration known as the Noche Buena is busy with friends and family eating, drinking and partying together and wishing each other a merry Christmas. While the streets are teeming with children running in and out of their homes and adults partaking of various activities. The patriarch of the celebration is the family’s Lola, or family matriarch, who showers the children with presents as they come by and pay their respects. The sense of family at this time is very strong in the Philippines as evidenced by the talent shows, visitations, and small reunions that crop up during and after the Christmas Eve party.