I am tickled to host some very impressive guest writers today: Austin Molina, with help from Anthony Molina and Shaw Molina. They shared with me how families and children celebrate Christmas in The Philippines. Some say that The Philippines has the longest Christmas celebration in the world- beginning with singing Christmas carols in September, and ending after Epiphany in January! I was so excited to learn more from the Molina boys- not only are they intelligent writers, they are also the sweetest little family!!!
Christmas in the Philippines is called Pasko. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year is “Maligayang Pasko” and “Manigong Bagong Taon!”
Christmas celebrations officially begin on December 16th with the traditional Simbang Gabi, but people start preparing for Christmas many months before. Simbang Gabi is a Catholic mass with singing and performances by kids in the community. Usually they act out the birth of Jesus. It is followed by sharing traditional Filipino foods with friends and family in the community. In the Philippines, Simbang Gabi happens every night for 9 days until Christmas Eve.
The days of the Simbang Gabi celebration are very special in the Philippines. The biggest celebration is Christmas Eve. Filipinos go to midnight mass and then celebrate Noche Buena, which is a big feast with lots of food that lasts all night. Food is a very important part of Filipino culture, especially at Christmas time. Filipinos celebrate Christmas By going to midnight mass, eating, opening presents, and spending time with family and friends.
Special foods that Filipinos eat for Christmas are things like babinka and puto bongbong (our dad and grandma’s favorites). Babinka (sometimes written bibingka) is a sweet cake and puto bongbong (see picture on right) is a sticky dessert with shredded coconut. They also eat arroz caldo which is a rice porridge or pandesal, a sweet bread that they dip in hot chocolate.
For Christmas in The Philippines, children get money from Godparents and grandparents. The Tagalog word for this gift-giving is aguinaldo.
The most special decoration for Christmas in The Philippines is called the parol. It is a colorful lantern that is lit up and hung for all to see. People either make them or buy them. They come in all sizes and colors. Our grandma has one in her house in Illinois made from capiz shells, (shown in the picture). With the traditional parol, when you see one in someone’s window here in the States… it’s a very clear indication that they are Filipinos celebrating Christmas! Also, kids make parols out of paper and sticks.
Christmas in the Philippines is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, so many festivities are held at church. It is also a time to be with family, so there are family gatherings with lots of food. It is a very important season for Filipinos.
Thank you so much Austin, Shaw, and Anthony! (and cutie Teia!) I loved learning about Christmas in The Philippines! Maligayang Pasko and Manigong Bagong Taon!