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Christmas Celebrations in Philippines

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Philippines is the only Asian country which has a dominant catholic population. Christmas in the Philippines extends beyond just a mere festival; it is a chance for people to live life to the fullest. The Philippines has earned the reputation of having the world’ longest Christmas season, with celebration starting out as early as September and the decorations are removed only after Three Kings, the first Sunday of the year.

Misa De Gallo
The misa de gallo is the most important Filipino Christmas tradition. Popularly known in Filipino as the Simbang Gabi, it is a traditional series of dawn masses or rooster masses which start from the 16th of December and go on till the 24th December. This 9 day long series of masses is meant to usher in the Christmas festival. Many parishes start Simbang Gabi at the crack of dawn, almost as early as four in the morning. A churchgoers devotion and sincerity are measured by this difficult task of going to a church everyday for nine days that early in the morning. However, if you do complete the novena sincerely, a Filipino traditions says that you will forever be blessed and God will definitely answer to any of your wishes.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve on the 24th December is a time for much feasting. The festivities begin after the midnight mass when friends and family get together at 12 in the night and feast on typical Noche Buena fare, which includes queso de bola or literally ball of cheese "Tsokolate" or hot chocolate drink and hamon or Christmas Ham. A popular customs in the schools of Philippines is the re-enacting of the journey undertaken Joseph and the pregnant Mother Mary. They act out how the couple searched for a shelter in anticipation of the approaching baby Jesus. This is the traditional panunuluyan; also called pananawagan and pananapatan A Street pageant is also performed after dark, where actors portray Joseph and Mary.

Niños Inocentes
Niños Inocentes is celebrated on December 28th. Also known as Holy Innocents day or Childermas, it is celebrated in the memory of all those children who were massacred at the hands of Herod who was in search of the Messiah to destroy him. It is the equivalent of April Fool’s day.

New Year’s Eve
Filipinos call New years Bisperas ng Bagong taon, and on this evening the families get together for what they call the Media Noche or the midnight meal. Despite the fact that firecrackers are banned in Philippines, it is obvious that this is the traditional way of greeting the New Year. There is an old belief that states that loud noise and merrymaking drive away evil spirits so therefore people celebrate with double the energy! A very noisy New Years!

Three Kings
The feast of the Three Kings (Tres Reyes or Tatlong Hari in Tagalog) marks the official end of Christmas in Philippines. It takes place on the first Sunday of the year and is also known as Epiphany.

The Filipinos love to decorate their houses and one can always spot the ubiquitous Christmas tree with the Santa Claus on top. It is a truly magical place to be in during Christmas. .


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