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Roots and Wings

Christmas in the Philippines


Filipinos all over the world probably celebrate the longest Christmas. This of course is not because Philippine radio stations start playing Christmas carols in September or the annual Christmas sales in the department stores that begin on All Saints’ Day in November (as opposed to the "greatest shopping day of the year" in the U.S. – the day after Thanksgiving Day). It is because of our longstanding tradition of Simbang Gabi, or pre-dawn masses decreed by Pope Sixtus V in the sixteenth century, which commences on the sixteenth of December and the celebration of the Feast of Three Kings on the sixth of January.

For Filipinos overseas, this is the season that we think of the Philippines most ... of the pious Simbang Gabi, of harmony and tuneful Villancicos, of throat-soothing salabat and stomach-filling puto bumbong, of the gaiety colorful parol, of flavor and aroma of morcon, hamon at queso de bola, of signs of respect by pagmamano sa ninong at ninang, of warm feelings of home with family and friends.

It does not come as a surprise then that our kababayan flock to the motherland in vast numbers this time of the year compared to all other seasons. The Filipino has the need, the desire, the longing to experience the soul and spirit of Christmas past. This time of the year, as with all seasons, we reflect on our glorious past and look forward to our bright prospects in the future.





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This page was last updated on Sunday, January 04, 1998.

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