As our President could witness after having spent the last period in the Philippines, Filipinos love Christmas. In fact, it is not uncommon to see Christmas trees along the streets already in September, or waitresses wearing Christmas hats and spreading artificial snow at the restaurant.
Surely one of the reasons this celebration is considered to be the most important in the country is the high percentage of Catholics living there, which is the highest among all Asian countries, reaching more than 80% of the total Philippines’ population.
However, even though Christmas habits in the Philippines have been widely influenced by western customs, the Asian archipelago still has its own way to celebrate it.
Simbang Gabi and Noche Buena are some of the most peculiar Christmas dates. The first one ushers the Christmas season in by opening it with a nine-day series of masses celebrated at dawn. In fact, this tradition originates from the rural areas, where in the past masses were taken at 4 o’ clock in the night because farmers would have not been able to participate otherwise, being December the harvest period. This custom still is observed also in the urban areas today, where people use to attend night masses.
On the other hand, Noche Buena is how they call the Christmas Eve party.
In this occasion, houses stay open for friends and neighbours popping in to wish a merry Christmas and eat one of the several tasty dishes are traditionally cooked.
A number of people consider the Philippines to have the world’s longest Christmas season… and Kito Onlus agrees! Merry Christmas to everyone!