We hear people say, “Ibang-iba talaga ang pasko sa Pinas”. But what makes Christmas in the Philippines different? Don’t countries celebrate the same way?
Christmas season starts on the 1st day of September
Filipinos call the season the ber months—which refers to the four months that ends with the syllable “ber”. The Philippines is known for having the longest Christmas season in the world. As early as September 1st, shopping malls and stores start selling Christmas items and advertising Christmas promotions. Filipinos begin to decorate their houses with Christmas trees, lanterns and lights. Christmas carols are played on FM radio stations and people start humming Christmas carols. Streets begin to light up with Christmas lights and people start counting down the days until Christmas.
Filipinos celebrate Halloween but it doesn’t overshadow the Christmas season at all. Don’t be surprised if you see a family watching a Halloween movie on a television beside the Christmas tree. Or when a 70-year old man asks the kids to sing Christmas carols instead of saying “trick or treat” before he hands out candies on Halloween.
And oh, Filipinos don’t celebrate a national thanksgiving day in November. Each town celebrates their own thanksgiving day at different times during the year. So there is no huge celebration that stands between September 1st and Christmas day.
Kids go from house to house singing Christmas carols
While Western kids go from house to house asking for treats during Halloween, Filipino kids do it during Christmas. They gather friends to go with them. Some bring aluminum plates and bang them with forks to create a drumming sound while they happily sing their Christmas carols. But not only are they asking for treats, but they also expect an aginaldo (Christmas money). Kids walk away happy even if they receive as little as 5 pesos. At the end of the night, they will gather around, count the money and treats, and divide everything among themselves. Don’t be surprised if you find them again at your doorstep the next night.
Christmas parol is a must-have in almost every home
A parol, Christmas lantern, is a five-pointed star made of bamboo strips and covered with cellophane or colored paper. It is the most popular Christmas decoration in the Philippines. Some people cannot afford a Christmas tree made of plastic so they make their own parols made of recycled materials such as used plastic straws and newspapers. A parol can be found hanging in mansions and humble homes.
Are there any other Filipino Christmas traditions that you know about? You are most welcome to share in the comment box below.