Christmas in the Philippines

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Parols at the Philippine Embassy in NYC
Photo Credit: Flicker by Gigi_NYC

In the Philippines, the formal Christmas celebrations start on Dec. 16 when people go to the first of nine pre-dawn or early morning masses culminating on Christmas Day, Dec. 25. It is called Simbang Gabi in Filipino, also called Misas de Gallo. It’s always the day I start decorating the house for Christmas. It is also my Mom’s birthday. I missed my call to her on Dec. 16 this year. Rest in peace, Mom, I miss you. Christmas celebrations continue to January 6, the Feast of the Three Kings, making the Philippines the country that celebrate the longest Christmas season – 22 days.

Christmas customs in the Philippines are a mixture of native, Spanish, Chinese and American elements. The result is uniquely Filipino. In the olden days, when only one rice crop was sown, Christmas coincided with the harvest. Food was plentiful, and there was cause for thanksgiving. The Spanish superimposed the drama and symbolism of the Nativity, the Chinese lent their New Year customs of exploding firecrackers and giving cash gifts to godchildren, and the American added “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas”.

Besides Santa Claus, Christmas Tree, Christmas Cards and Christmas Carols, the Filipinos’ main Christmas tradition is the Parol, a star lantern made from bamboo strips and colored cellophane paper and represents the star that guided the Wise Men. It is the most popular Christmas decoration found in every home in the Philippines.

Here is a tutorial on how to build a parol:

Maligayang Pasko at Masayang Bagong Taon.

(Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year).


19 thoughts on “Christmas in the Philippines

  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed your time over there. Christmas in PI is so different than here in the States and I miss all the traditions. It is less commercialized over there. Merry Christmas to you, Will and to your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I live in fear of 1 September every year. This is the start of the ‘ber months where shopping malls, radio stations, trikes, basically everywhere, will be playing Christmas carols. This will continue through the ‘ber months until the 12th day of Christmas (12th Night) – 6 January!

    After enduring 4 months of Christmas carols, after all, you can get too much of a good thing, at least the end of that season heralds the winter months in Manila where January and February are a few degrees cooler than the average daily temperature for the rest of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To be honest, I don’t remember September to November but then again, I left 52 years ago. I don’t put out my Christmas decorations until Dec. 16 which is the start of Simbang Gabi. Starting in September is way too long.


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