To celebrate the festive season, Miriam, Lee Ann and Samantha, our team mates in Manilla, share the traditions of Christmas in the Philippines.
Christmas season in Manilla is one of the longest in the world, lasting for almost three months. It starts in September and comes to an end on January 6 - the Feast of the Three Kings. During the “ber” months (September to December) the rains slowly cease, the temperature starts to drop and cold winds at night are just another reminder that Christmas is coming.
While other parts of the world are preparing for holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, in Manilla Christmas songs are already played in malls and on radio stations. Shimmering Christmas decorations in deck hotel lobbies, office spaces, and restaurants. The pre-Christmas sale starts in September and the volume of traffic begins to get heavy.
The traditions that make up the festivities and length of the Christmas season are a mixture of Catholic roots and beliefs, combined with the Philippines’ fascinating culture. Family centric values are a big part of this making the holiday a perfect time for family reunions.
The long festive season gives Filipinos enough time to prepare for Christmas week, from early booking of flights, decking the residential areas with Christmas lights and decorations, to deciding what food will be prepared for the Noche Buena celebration on Christmas Eve.
There are a few Christmas traditions that are uniquely observed in the Philippines- one such tradition is the Simbang Gabi, a Holy Mass celebrated at dawn every day from December 16 to December 24. Rice cakes and other delicacies served with hot chocolate are sold outside churches for a delicious breakfast after the holy obligation.
More than all the festivities, many Filipinos sees the Christmas season as an opportunity to take time-off and go back to what really matters most - family. And of course, gift-giving is expected between co-workers and to godchildren.