Christmas in the Philippines is said to be one of the longest Christmas celebration in the world. Christmas songs are beginning to play on the dawn of September 1 – a Christmas kickoff by FM radio stations traditionally playing Christmas songs from September 1 onwards, while Christmas countdown commence on TV stations (after news presentation) in the evening. Christmas spirit begin to feel as Parols, Christmas lights and other Christmas decors start sprouting on the sidewalks, in the malls, and other department stores in the country. But what exactly the Filipino traditions that mark the beginning of Christmas?
Misa de Gallo
Misa de Gallo or Rooster’s mass, popularly known as “Simbang Gabi,” is conducted by Roman Catholic to honor the Virgin Mary and to spiritually prepare the faithful for the birthday of Jesus. Simbang gabi begins on December 16 and ends on December 24. It usually held at around four o’clock in the morning which according to history — allow farmers to go to church before tilling their fields.
Filipino also has the belief that when completed all nine days of Simbang Gabi and made a wish, it would come true.
Filipino families also take the opportunity to be together and share various traditional foods like bibingka, (rice cake cooked on a clay stove), puto bumbong (purple-colored rice pastry, seasoned with grated coconut and brown sugar) and other kakanin (traditionally cooked pastries made from rice) partnered with hot coffee and chocolate.
Rico-Rico is a traditional musical play conducted by Boholanon before Misa de Gallo on December 16. The musical play depicts how Mary (Mother of Jesus) finds the manger before Jesus is born in Bethlehem.
Probably Christmas is not complete in the Philippines without this traditional singing of Christmas carols. Christmas carolling is a part of Filipino tradition that starts on the onset of Misa de Gallo.
Children both in group or individual as well as adults are hoping from one house to another every night singing Jingle Bells, Silent Night and the traditional Filipino Christmas songs like Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit, Pasko Na Naman, at Namamasko. They usually have handmade musical instruments like tambourine, made from empty cans or biscuit tin cans as drums. As part of the tradition, Filipinos give money to the carolers as Christmas presence.
Also known as “Suroy sa musikero,” is a traditional Christmas carol in Loboc, Bohol. Using the traditional instruments, young and veteran musicians are rounding the town blaring Christmas messages and cheer Lobocanon with their traditional music. This tradition starts every 25th of December through February 2 to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Do you know any other Filipino Christmas traditions, add comments here.