You are here

The 12 Trips of Christmas: The Longest Christmas

With nearly 90 percent of the nation following Christian traditions and doctrines, the Philippines has quite a reputation for going all out for Christmas. With decorations going up in September, Christmas parties being held throughout Autumn and Winter and Christmas-themed talent shows taking place before the rest of the world dares to plug in their lights, Filipinos couldn’t be more proud of their Christmas traditions. Feast on chestnuts and puto bumbong (a purple rice dessert that is steamed in bamboo and eaten with butter, coconut and sugar). Exercise your creative side and try your hand at making a paról, or star-shaped lantern inspired by the star of Bethlehem. If the thought of making a ten-point star out of bamboo and crêpe paper scares the snowmen out of you, then visit the Giant Lantern Festival in Pampanga and admire the thousands of beautiful paróls crafted by artisans and paról experts. Make a trip to Tarlac City where you will find hundreds of beautiful manger scenes or beléns decorating the rooftops. If you're staying in urban areas, be sure to have a few coins or pieces of candy ready for the young carollers who will be stopping outside your door to sing pinoy Christmas songs. If you are interested in learning about local church celebrations, then you won’t want to miss Simbang Gabi, a nine day affair that involves meeting at a church at three o’clock in the morning and enjoying traditional breakfast treats after mass.

On the night before Christmas and Christmas day, the streets may be quiet as most families will be spending time together inside their homes. A Christmas feast takes place the night before Christmas called Noche Buena and children are expected to pay respects to their elders and godparents, who in exchange, give the children a namamasko or gift of fresh crisp money.

After Christmas day, the fun doesn’t quite end. New Year’s Eve is celebrated with another feast and fireworks as people hope for prosperity and good fortune for the coming year. A few other celebrations are held throughout January until Christmas officially ends on the third week with the Feast of Saint Niño. Across the Philippines, different communities have different final celebrations to honor the baby Jesus. In Manila, thousands gather for the Sinulog Festival to honor one of the oldest religious relics in the Philippines, the statue of Santo Niño de Cebu, which was gifted by Ferdinand Magellan. In Kalibo, the “Mother of All Festivals” takes place with parades, food, live performances, and much more.

From September through January, no matter what part of the Philippines you are in, you'll find yourself in the midst of a spectacular Christmas celebration.

All photos were purchased from Pond 5.

December 12, 2014

Let the Travel Scout bring the best travel content right to your inbox!