When it comes to the longest celebration of Christmas season, the Philippines is on top of that. Where on earth can you see and experience a Christmas season being celebrated as early as September? No doubt and no need to argue- It’s only in the Philippines!
The Philippines, an archipelago of 7,101 islands has an exceptional tradition of celebrating the birth of Christ, “The Christmas Season”: Unique in a sense that Filipinos celebrates the Christmas festival from September 01 to the Feast of the Epiphany in January. As a result, it has been tagged as the Longest Christmas Season in the World.
The Christmas time in the Philippines is traditionally and informally starts in “ber” season which is the month of September where you will begin to hear people playing Christmas songs such as “Jingle Bells”, “Feliz Navidad”, “12 Days of Christmas”, “Oh Holy Night” or even the hit song of Maria Carey’s “All I want For Christmas is You”, people especially kids caroling around every night singing their “Pasko Na Naman” and “Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit” songs which uses musical instruments like guitar. Some are even using instruments made from bottle caps and cans which produce a sense of harmonious sound while others are starting to decorate their houses with their most-inspired designs of Christmas lights and colorful lanterns called the Parols made of paper. You will be amazed with the feeling of this so-called “holiday spirit” of the yuletide while preparing yourself to the grandest day of the season which is on the Christmas Eve feast, December 24 called the Noche Buena.
The months of September, October, November, December, and January are actually considered as part of the long celebration of the Christmas Season in the Philippines. Major establishments such as malls, restaurants, hotels are starting to give huge discounts and freebies while playing Christmas songs. Surely, you will feel the “Christmas spirit” this early.
By the month of December, Filipinos especially the Catholic devotees and even Christian sects observes the Catholic tradition of the 9-day Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi, a pre-dawn mass which starts as early as 4:00 am on December 16 and concludes on the eve of Christmas which is on the 24th. Just don’t forget to bring yourself some chairs since churches are on its fullness crowd during these days.
Some people actually believe that when someone completes the nine days ritual of the Mass, their wishes and desires will be granted. Luckily, I myself experienced the completion of this nine-day tradition and granted my requests despite of my religion being a non-catholic. Of course, you should work and find ways on that wish you asked.
By the way, don’t forget our unique delicacies during Christmas season. After the pre-dawn mass of course, a treat of these following delicacies will surely make your day ahead special and worthwhile. Best try is the famous hot chocolate well known as the tsokolate (a cocoa drink), then the delicious bibingka (a rice cake being cooked using coal burners) with some toppings of cheese or mango tidbits, suman or budbud (a long, fragrant rice cakes), ube halaya, and the sweet, sticky rice called the puto bumbong.
A Christmas season is not complete when there is no celebration of the Christmas Eve with your love ones, friends, relatives, and families. Filipinos traditionally serves the best and delicious mouth-watering foods in the table which some includes the lechon baboy (roasted pig), barbecue, grilled fish, humba, kare-kare, ham (Jamon Serano), and Pan de Sal (bread) with Queso de Bola (Ball of Cheese) on the inside. Don’t forget the sweet deserts of Leche Flan, Polvoron (Pastillas de Leche), Halo-halo, and Sans Rival. Traditionally speaking, this is also the time when Filipinos celebrates the exchange of gifts called the Monito Monita or Kris Kringle. Godparents known as Ninong and Ninang are actually preparing their gifts such as toys or even money to their Inaanak (Godchildren).
Basically, the essence of Christmas is not about Santa Claus with the red nose Rudolf the Reindeer or the exchange of gifts but the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ. This yuletide season is about sharing, caring, forgiving, and loving everyone. It’s about living life with the meaning of LOVE.It’s September, hence, the traditional celebration of Christmas Season in the Philippines. So what are your plans? Just make it plain and simple: Show and share you Love to everyone. Have your self a Merry Christmas ahead!