Everyone just wants to contribute to the Christmas Spirit, but nobody does it better than Filipinos.
Every year, Christmas season is celebrated in many different ways, but one thing remains the same: Filipinos will do nothing less than bongga to make sure that everybody knew that Santa Claus is coming to town.
Some people mark the beginning of Christmas season with the weather. For Filipinos, the beginning of Christmas is as early as the last weeks of August. They need that much time to prepare. However, Jose Mari Chan will make his presence felt in one way or another. It could be in malls, jeepneys, and even in your head (that’s how strong his LSS game is).
Bright Lights in the City
They take Christmas lights to a whole new level. Every year, the streets, houses, lamp posts, trees, benches, and just about any inanimate objects are draped with Christmas lights in different colors and animation. One of the biggest lights showcases is the annual dancing lights show at the Ayala Triangle in Makati City.
Professional light designers program the lights to dance to cheerful music. People flock to this area just to see the show that comes on every two hours from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. It usually opens mid-November and runs until the first week of January.
This is one of the surest signs that Christmas is around the corner. You’re just quietly sitting on your couch in the living room. All of a sudden, you hear an off-beat drum and an out of tune choir singing “Sa May Bahay”.
Christmas is truly a time for children as they serenade every single house in groups of 3-6. And you can be sure that each house will get more than one serenade a night.
Battle of Station IDs
Two of the leading television networks battle it out each year for the best Christmas station IDs. They produce a new original Christmas song every year and launch it with a music video featuring all the talents each network has. It’s not an official contest, but there’s definitely a crowd favorite and the winner gets very prestigious and self-fulfilling bragging rights.
One of the most beautiful part of Christmas in the Philippines is the exercise of devotion. People of all ages wake up at 3:00am in the morning to catch the Misa de Gallo and they also come in their best outfits despite the lack of sleep. Even people who don’t usually go to church attend. Legend has it that if you complete the 9 masses, what you prayed for will come true.
Imagine Filipinos’ obsession with Christmas partnered with their food culture. Puto Bumbong and Bibingka are perfect for after mass bonding because who doesn’t get hungry after waking up that early?
These delicacies come out during the season with stalls popping up everywhere like mushrooms.
Grand Family Reunions
This is the time of the year when young Filipinos meet their 3rd cousin from their far aunt once removed. It is a little difficult to keep track of the names, especially as a young adult. However, your mother usually has this supernatural talent of knowing everyone by name, even the relatives from your father’s side.
One of the most awaited parts of Christmas is the feast that you can only eat from at exactly 12mn. The staples include the Christmas ham, Queso de Bola, macaroni or fruit salad, and everyone’s favorite lumpiang shanghai. No one is allowed to touch the food before 12 or else grandma will have a fit.
There’s an (unwritten) rule that you need to eat your Noche Buena first before you can go open your presents. However, everyone has to have their presents in their hands before anyone can open theirs. One cousin, usually the older ones, call out the names of the gift receivers one by one and all of the gifts are usually under the Christmas tree.
No one takes Christmas as seriously as Filipinos do. Why shouldn’t they? The Christmas Spirit is very in line with the Filipinos’ culture of hospitality, cheerfulness, and festiveness. No matter who you are, you can always expect the best Christmas memories in this nation.
Iba ang pasko sa Pinas!