Philippines: A very long Christmas season

The Philippines are known for the longest Christmas season in the world. Beginning in September, the festivities do not end until January.

“When it comes to celebrating Christmas, no one does it better than Filipinos. While we end up being late for most things, there are only two things that we are always (ridiculously) early for: catching morning flights and celebrating Christmas”, said Arnie Najera, from our office in the Philippines.

And he doesn’t exaggerate it. As soon as the “Ber”-months start, Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in our hearts” is played on radios and in malls. And with it comes the decorations: mostly wreaths and paroles (lanterns).

Nine masses for a wish

Simbang Gabi is a series of nine masses starting early in the morning until Christmas. Starting on December 16 and ending on Christmas 24 with a midnight mass. The tradition has its roots in Spain colonizing the Philippines.

After each mass, you will find vendors outside that sell bibingka and Puto bumbong. Both are rice cakes. Though, Puto bumbong is a bit more special. It’s purple and steamed in bamboo tubes.

To get through all the nine masses, so early as 4 am, you are granted a wish. During the first mass, the wish is made, and it comes true after completing all nine.

Noche Buena and Christmas till January

Noche Buena or “Good Night” is the night of Christmas Eve in the Philippines. Friends and Family join for a big Christmas dinner right after the midnight Christmas Mass. “Even staying up past midnight feels like less of a chore, when it’s Christmas Eve and your mom is telling you to help prepare the pinoy version of spaghetti for Noche Buena”, says Arnie.

A tradition is also eating ham and queso de bola (Edam cheese) with a pan de sal, which is a Filipino bread roll. The middle and upper classes also supplement this tradition by other dishes like paella, chicken, fruit salad and fruit cake.

But the Christmas season doesn’t end there in the Philippines. The Epiphany or Fest of the Three Kings celebrates the day, the Three Kings arrived at Jesus‘ cot and marks the final day of the longest Christmas season in the world. The Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday in January, which means Christmas continues into the new year.

Frauen in einem Gemüsegeschäft auf den Philippinen

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