Christmas is one of the most famous festivities in the Philippines. Everyone keeps fond childhood memories for Christmas.
I remember very clearly my only wish for Christmas: to celebrate Christmas with my father. First of all, we are not a broken family, but because of our financial circumstances, my father is forced to work abroad away from us to provide food, shelter and a good education for all of us. I always write to Santa Claus that my father can spend Christmas with us, that I will be a good girl just to get my wish. But, that’s life, you cannot get all what you wish for but it doesn’t mean you cannot be happy. Like what they say “Happiness is a choice, Happiness is finding joy in everyday experiences.
Okay let me tell you about our celebration...I don’t wanna be biased but our country has the best Christmas celebration in the world :)
We start our Christmas once the “ber” month sets in and it officially ends in January, first Sunday after New Year. We Filipinos begin decorating our houses, establishments and streets with gleaming displays, huge Christmas trees, and astounding decorations. Aside from that, you’ll start hearing the timeless Jose Mari Chan Christmas classics as well as different Christmas carols in shopping malls and on the radio.
By the time December comes, we are all excited, especially the children. My friends and I began to prepare Christmas songs and Christmas carols. We prepare our musical instruments and prepare a Christmas song set that we sing for every home we visit. Then the homeowners will reward us with money or candies and we sang them a thank you song.
We saved up the money we made by singing and buying Christmas presents for loved ones.
Then, we have the “Simbang Gabi” or “Misa de Gallo” (Night Mass) the mass starts from December 16 to Christmas eve. We wake up before the crack down to attend the mass in hopes of having a granted wish once we complete the nine days. I remember, my mother always yells at us just to wake us at 4 in the morning to prepare because the mass will start at 5 am.
Everybody is getting busier, especially that Christmas is getting closer. The most important festival during Christmas is December 24. Every house is busy preparing their home cooked dishes for the Noche Buena, my mother always cooked the best Spaghetti and fried chicken that we always craved for, and oh! I almost forgot our fruit salad, it will not be a complete Noche Buena without my mother’s fruit salad. Noche Buena starts in the evening, a big celebration with family, friends and neighbors dropping to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! This has been a favorite family tradition in the Philippines.
A lot of Filipinos would attend the Misa de Gallo on Christmas eve. This also marks the end and the final mass of Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo.
On the 25th of December, kids are very excited to look for the gift they received from Santa Claus and from their parents. My mother always gave us money instead of a gift because Santa Claus already gave us toys (My mother’s made up story). And then we visit our friends, families and of course our Ninongs and Ninangs (Godparents), we kids expect them to give us “Aguinaldo”, this is a common tradition for every Filipinos, to visit their loved ones during Christmas day. Kids will often wear their finest clothes and practice the tradition “Mano” as an act of respect to elders. This is when we receive our “pamasko”. These gifts are popularly called “Aguinaldo”.
There are so many ways we celebrate Christmas in the whole world but let's not forget the true meaning of Christmas which is to give love and kindness to everyone.