Christmas is the most important holiday in the Philippines with the festive celebrations starting as early as September. Decorations and displays are lavish and spare no expense-they have been called some of the best in the world! As well as internationally recognised decorations, the parol is one of the most iconic symbols of the Filipino Christmas season. It symbolises light over darkness and the hope and goodwill during the festive season.
As we are hanging our stockings to welcome the gifts from Santa, young Filipinos will be leaving their best-polished shoes outside the door or window for the three kings to fill up with treats.
Approximately, Filipinos are 90 percent Christian and 80 percent of those Catholic, an influence from the countries period as a Spanish colony for three centuries. The Filipino depiction of the nativity scene is the Belem which derives from the Spanish translation of Bethlehem. The Philippines is a deeply religious country so you will see Belems in homes and life scale versions in shopping centers and outside churches.
Traditional Christmas celebrations start on December 16th when many people go to their first of nine pre-dawn masses. The last mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve in an event called Noche Buena where families will come together for a big feast. The celebration is well known in Spain and Latin America and stems for the nation’s colonial past. Traditional Philippine dishes are shared including lechon (a traditional pork roasted dish,) spaghetti and Christmas hams. Gifts are exchanged with loved ones.
A well as its traditional and religious influence, Christmas is enjoyed in the Philippines for the importance of spending time with the family. Many of the young and skilled workforce migrate to the larger cities throughout the year so Christmas is the time for family gatherings and spending time with loved ones.