Pasko: Pinoy Christmas

It is definitely the most wonderful time of the year, especially when you’re spending it in the Philippines. This festive season is the longest and most-celebrated in the country with families and friends reuniting, sharing blessings and upholding traditions. The Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the busiest and most exciting days of the holiday season, know more about the happenings on these special days, discover their significance and the unique Filipino culture.
Simbang Gabi is one of the popular and longest traditions known to Filipinos. Introduced by Spanish friars, this nine-day series of devotional masses is widely practiced by Filipino Catholics in the Philippines, which marks the official start of Christmas
At exactly 4 in the morning, Catholic faithfuls troop to the church upon hearing the bell ring. Historical beginnings of this practice dates back in the early 16th century during the Spanish era, and has been adapted by the Filipinos for centuries. Spanish friars chose to celebrate the mass at dawn so that everyone can attend before working since most of the rural folks are farmers and fishermen. The Simbang Gabi welcomes the light of the new day and the birth of Christ, depicting a deeper religious significance.
This religious practice doesn’t only intensify the Catholic faith, but also strengthens the relationship among families, friends and the community spirit. This practice portrays  the close-knit ties of every Filipino family.
Filipinos across the world make it a point to keep the tradition alive by adapting the Simbang Gabi in their Filipino Catholic community. Through this, they are able to keep in touch with culture, family and religious faith despite living abroad.
In the Philippines, a Christmas is never without the season’s favorites—bibingka and puto bumbong. After the mass, churchgoers are greeted by the inviting and sweet aroma of these much-loved delicacies while being cooked. Everyone gets to enjoy a heartwarming bite of the season’s local specialty which are usually sold by vendors in the plaza and along the streets to the church.
After attending the last Simbang Gabi, also known as Misa de Gallo, families gather to one house where they share the best of culinary dishes for the Noche Buena. This night-long feast is also known as the celebration of the birth of Christ. This event is the most exciting part of the Christmas celebration in the Philippines, a Filipino tradition adapted from the Spaniards where families and friends celebrate the Christmas Eve over a large feast.
Everyone is excited over the traditional dishes like the hamon (ham), queso de bola, lechon (roasted suckling pig), fruit salad, buko pandan, palabok and a lot more! Family members put their best foot forward as they prepare their own specialty dishes, making the Christmas Eve dinner an exciting and memorable time for everyone.
Sometimes, Noche Buena is also an open house celebration where friends also drop by wishing everyone a joyful and peaceful holiday. While some families wait for Christmas Day, others look forward to the Christmas Eve for the much-awaited Monito-Monita, the Filipino version of exchanging gifts, also known as Kris Kringle or Santa Secret in other countries. Members of the family also prepare a program which includes activities like singing, dancing and various games for everyone, making the event more lively and fun.
 Noche Buena and Christmas (Pasko) are two of the most-anticipated feasts for most Filipinos. It is when everyone takes time to reunite with friends and relatives in the city or provinces. Children also pay elders, especially godmothers and godfathers, a visit called namamasko, where they are given gifts which can be money or sweets.
During Pasko, families attend the mass again, which are held in the morning then afterwards, they spend the entire day at home sharing the feast, while some visit homes of other relatives and friends.
Together with the country’s world-renowned travel destinations, the warm and religious characteristics of the Filipinos make the Christmas celebration an inspiring and memorable holiday for all. With all the abundance in food, merriment, and colorful culture, the Philippines is indeed the best destination for the holiday season!

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