Philippines is known as the top Christian country in Asia. Based on the Philippine Census as of year 2000, more or less 80% of its population is Roman Catholic. In this situation, many people will follow the doctrines of the said religious denomination, and one of these is Christmas day.
Now, why Filipinos celebrate Christmas so early? One of the reasons of this is because there are so many good things will happen in this season, such as giving gifts, family bonding, Christmas party, 13th month pay for the employees, sales in different supermarkets, long vacation, and many more. At the start of September, people will start making and decorating parols or Christmas lanterns and Christmas lights with different brilliant colors and designs their Christmas trees, houses, or any property that they have. Some people also will start singing the Christmas carols on the streets. It has also a competition of giant lanterns in the city of San Fernando, Pampanga. The lanterns are not only gigantic in size, but have thousands of light bulbs which give them very nice sparkling colors with different patterns of light designs.
Since September is part of “BER” months, Filipinos will be happy to hear it since it sounds like December and reminds them the goodness brought by this month. As part of the tradition, Filipinos go to church and attend the mass which is called the “Simbang Gabi” or “Misa de Gallo” in Spanish and it will start on December 16. It will be held at dawn, which composed of daily mass for nine days and usually starts at 4 AM. The last mass is on Christmas day. They continue celebrating until January 6th, for this day is the “Epiphany” which means the “Feast of the three kings”. The celebration of Christmas will now last until Valentine’s Day which will be celebrated on February 14.
Trivia: The word “parol” or “Christmas lantern” in English is derived from the word “farol” in Spanish. It is a star-shaped and made of bamboo covered with papers or plastics in various designs, shapes, and sizes. It is a sign of star in Bethlehem where the three kings guided by it to the manger where Jesus was born and who was believed the savior of all mankind in Christians.
Although the Philippines is prone to calamities like typhoon, etc., the people here are always finding ways to celebrate Christmas. They bond and eat together as one family, even though the served food are not as much as others have. They will show to others the true meaning of Christmas like loving, sharing, and forgiving each other to have a better world.
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