Christmas in The Philippines

Ever think to yourself that it would be wonderful to celebrate Christmas for months? If so, you may want to check out the Philippines. There, the celebration is the longest and biggest in the world. This smallish Asian island country takes its Christmas celebration seriously, with huge light displays, festivals, lanterns, and much more. About 90% of Filipinos are Christians, and 80% of that number are Catholic. This is a holdover from the years when the nation was a Spanish colony, and the faith plays a big part in their Christmas celebrations. Other nations may focus on the commercial aspect of the holiday. But in the Philippines, more than anything, it's the religious side that the Filipinos truly celebrate - and in a big way. Christmas in the Philippines starts in September. That's right - September. During the early days, you'll start seeing Christmas displays start showing up in public areas and commercial centers as well as in the homes of residents. Among the most common decorations will be the parol, a Christmas lantern shaped like a five-pointed star that represents the star of Bethlehem. Throughout September, the country fills up with Christmas music and displays. The festivities will last all the way through to early January - three to four months of holiday fun! The decorations in the Philippines are massive, with huge light displays and decorations showing up everywhere. Areas get very busy as people begin to rush to get their decorations purchased and installed, and Christmas shopping fever takes over as well. You'll see decorations virtually everywhere. And throughout the months leading up to the big day, parties are held constantly. From classmates to coworkers to families to friends, it seems like everyone is throwing a Christmas party. Along with the Christmas displays and decorations, there are numerous similarities to other countries and their Christmases. Families will gather for a traditional dinner on Christmas Eve, and presents are exchanged as well. And then, on Christmas day, children visit aunts, uncles, godmothers, godfathers, and grandparents. At every stop, they're given gifts - often candies, toys, or money. Additionally, the Filipinos devote much of their time to worship. A big part of their tradition is the Nine Masses. Starting on December 16 and running to Christmas Eve, residents attend masses each day. If completing all nine masses, it's said that you may make a wish which will come true. In general, mass is very early - 4 o'clock AM is the start time of the mass. And of course, Christmas isn't Christmas without special treats. In the Philippines, the traditional drink is called Salabat. This is a warm ginger tea that is traditionally consumed throughout the season, much like eggnog in other countries. Additional treats such as bibingka or puto bumbong are sold outside churches at the end of each day's mass. While some of the customs may be slightly different in the Philippines, the heart and soul of the holiday still remains the same no matter where you're celebrating Christmas.