>How do you know that Christmas season has started in the Philippines? It’s when you see brightly lit star shaped Christmas lanterns and colorful Christmas lights adorn houses and streets. It usually starts late October to early November after the Halloween.
In my own family, we start decorating the house, November 3rd onwards and we take the decorations down right after the celebration of the Three Kings.
Philippines could have the most interesting Christmas tradition in the world because of how Filipino families value the true meaning of Christmas which is to spend it with family.
Simbang Gabi/Misa de Aguinaldo/Gift of Masses/Nine Mornings
Christmas officially starts on December 16th where Simbang Gabi starts. Simbang gabi is celebrated for nine consecutive days, hence the term Nine mornings. In the earlier times, Simbang gabi where celebrated at dawn before the rooster crows but at recent times, the Catholic churches accommodated requests to have mass on evenings just right after office hours.
It was also said that when you complete the nine mornings, you’re wish or prayer will come true.
Misa de Gallo
Christmas usually brings families together on Misa de Gallo which is celebrated on the night of December 24th. Misa de Gallo is also called Mass of the Rooster. The “misa de gallo” is the final mass of the nine consecutive early morning masses, and is the official start of the Christmas day.
La Noche Buena/Christmas Feast
This is an integral part of the Christmas celebration in the Philippines. Families cook and prepare food which the entire family shares right after attending Misa de Gallo while waiting for the clock to strike at 12MN and hence welcoming the Christmas Day together.
Exchanging of Gifts
To many household, after feasting on their Noche Buena they exchange gifts and open them together.
I am one of the Filipino families who are big on Christmas celebrations. I grew up in a super close knit family that Christmas eve and Noche Buena were always happy times for us. Right after Misa de Gallo, my entire paternal family side would meet up on our Ancestral house to share a huge feast prepared by our Grandmother. We had programs and games, we sing and dance, we chitchat and lastly (and the best part of all) we exchange gifts!
After celebrating Christmas with my Dad’s side of the family, each family goes home and do whatever family tradition we had. For us, it was the customary picture taking on the Christmas tree, picture taking with the gifts we received and exchange gifts too! This for me, was the bestest part. My Mom and Tatay usually gives me separate gifts. 🙂
I remember how happy Christmas was until I grew older and things changed not only for me but everyone else in the family.
Now that I have my own family, I try to create or re-create Christmas family traditions that I knew of (since my husband didn’t have any–yes, seriously.)
But you know, it’s hard when you’re just starting as a family and there are SEVERAL factors that hinder whatever you have planned.
Well, maybe next year then.
How about you? Had you have the merriest Christmas?
What are your Christmas Family Tradition?