In a country that celebrates a total of 42,000 festivals (major and minor), Christmas particularly stands out for the sheer grandeur of festivities lasting for months. Yes, the Philippines is known to celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world! The celebrations start as early as September and continue till the first Sunday of January (Feast of the Three Kings day). Also, this period overlaps with the peak tourist season in the Philippines. It can be inferred that Christmas in the Philippines is a show-stealer during this tourist season. Aren’t you excited to celebrate the longest Christmas with the Filipinos? iEagle offers the best deals and discounts on last-minute flights to the Philippines!
Christianity in the Philippines:
The Philippines is the only Asian country with the highest Christian population! More than 90% of Filipinos are Christians, and almost 80% of them are Catholics. The origin of Christianity in the Philippines was attributed to the Spanish colonizers Ferdinand Magellan and Miguel Lopez de Legaspi of the 16th century. Not only the nation’s religion, but its culture, traditions, and even cuisine are largely influenced by the Spaniards.
Highlights of the Christmas celebrations in the Philippines:
The Christmas celebrations in the Philippines are a blend of both western and native Filipino customs. Christmas vibes prevail in the country throughout the “Ber months,” i.e., from September to December. You’ll hear Christmas carols from the beginning of September, the malls and shops attract Shopaholics with pre-Christmas sales and discounts, the restaurants, hotels, and streets turn vibrant with gleaming Christmas decorations. The Filipinos know how to make the most of the Christmas season, and tourists are more than elated to join these Christmas merriments in ‘the Capital of the World’s Festivities.’ After all, the country’s tourism slogan promises “It’s More Fun in the Philippines!” The following are some highlights of Christmas in the Philippines.
Simbang Gabi refers to the nine-day early morning masses (the novena) from December 16 to December 24, leading up to the final midnight mass (Misa de Gallo) on Christmas Eve. This traditional practice is observed in honor of Virgin Mary, and it is believed that God fulfills the wish of every person who completes these 9-day masses.
Parols are the quintessential symbols of Christmas in the Philippines, and they hold huge significance to the Filipinos. These ornamental star-patterned lanterns (traditionally made of bamboo and paper) represent the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings. One can see twinkling Parols decorating homes, churches, shops, and every building in the country.
Christmas Eve in the Philippines is characterized by unending celebrations with family, friends, and neighbors. From exchanging gifts to the Misa de Gallo (the first mass following nine-day Simbang Gabi) and Noche Buena (the grand Christmas feast), a number of enthusiastic activities bring everyone together, and their joy knows no bounds. During the all-night-long Noche Buena feast, families dine together and enjoy Christmas special delicacies like Lechón, ham, rice cakes, queso de bola (Edam cheese), fruit salads, etc. The dining table would be overflowing with food and drinks!
Tagum’s Christmas tree:
When you celebrate Christmas in the Philippines, you must check out the Christmas tree arranged in Tagum city. The massive tree is decorated with thousands of light bulbs whose radiant flash blinds your eyes for a moment. Locals and tourists throng this place to catch the awe-inspiring sight of this towering Christmas tree!
Pampangas’ Giant Lantern Festival:
Another attraction of Christmas in the Philippines is the Giant Lantern festival hosted every year in Pampanga, dubbed “the Christmas Capital of the Philippines.” This festival — a competition of Giant Lanterns — is held in San Fernando City on the Saturday before Christmas Eve. The bright lights and colorful designs of these huge lanterns and Parols embellish the night sky of the city. The view is a visual delight! Moreover, this festival also puts on display the cultural heritage and craftsmanship of Filipinos.