Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in the Philippines {Guest Post}

I am delighted to introduce you today to Arni of Travel Gourmande, one of my absolutely favourite bloggers and a very kind friend (I'm so happy we've met through our blogs). Arni has been living in Dubai for over a decade now and has collected a good amount of stamps on her pasport for sure. She writes about many different things, inluding her travel adventures and her not so ordinary life in Dubai, and also pours her heart out from time to time. Whatever she blogs about, it is always a pleasure to read her, so hop over her blog and do share some love!

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Warm Holidays Greetings to everyone! First and foremost, I'd like to thank Irene for inviting me here to share and reminisce how we celebrate Christmas in my home country.  Though I have spent the last ten years being an expat in Dubai, I can't help thinking about family traditions in my home country during Christmas every year. Please allow me to think aloud with you.

Filipino Christmas Lantern - Parol

Christmas in the Philippines is always taken up a notch and can be the longest in the world.  Christmas carols start playing as early as September, as soon as the "ber" months begin.  Most households start decorating as early as they can possibly can with lit-up houses and faux Christmas trees that will stay there until after Epiphany.

An iconic Filipino Christmas lantern called "Parol" is a traditional Christmas ornament that represents the Star of Betlehem that guided the three kings to the manger and is considered a symbol of light and hope over darkness. They can be as colorful as we can make them. The illuminated star pattern is traditionally made of bamboo and Japanese / crepe paper that later evolved into more sturdy ones made of mother of pearl or foil.

Office and School Christmas parties take up most of December with the popular "Monito /Monita" or kris kringle before the holiday vacation starts.

From the 16th of December, the majority attend Simbang gabi or Misa de Gallo, a dawn novena.  It is believed that their wish gets granted once they complete the consecutive masses that lead up to Christmas Eve. Traditional delicacies of bibingka or egg and rice flour based cake and my favorite puto bumbong, purple colored sticky rice steamed in bamboo tubes, are sold in the street outside the church as a morning treat for the church goers.  Though I personally am not a big fan of waking up in the morning to attend these masses, the puto bumbong was enough to motivate me to wake up at dawn.

Christmas in the Philippines or Pasko is a big family affair. The highlight of the event is marked on the 24th of December. The family goes to church for a Midnight Mass, that usually starts at 10pm. A night long traditional feast called, "Noche Buena" is celebrated by the family at Midnight.

Morcon, stuffed Filipino meat roll

The table, as I recall it, would usually have hamon -Christmas ham,  Queso de bola- a sealed wax ball of Edam Cheese, pasta and etc.  In our household, I remember my Mom's delicious " Morcon", a Filipino meat roll stuffed with chorizo, carrots, eggs and pickle with tomato sauce. I have yet to try making one of these one day.

After full tummies at dinner, the family starts opening gifts.  The whole affair continues till morning.  With the western influences of Santa Claus, I remember the gifts from Santa appearing under the Christmas Tree upon our return from the Midnight Mass.

During Christmas Day, the family eats the leftover from last night's feast and continues the celebration with a huge Christmas lunch while the doors get plenty of knocks from visitors- god children and neighborhood kids asking for monetary gifts (This is called "pamamasko"). New bills and coins are happily distributed  until they run out and the doors are locked, as we pretend there's no one home. :)


Thank you for reading and I wish you all a Merry Christmas!
Love & Light,

Arni 

Images via: 1 /  2

12 comments:

  1. Qué interesante este post, Irene! bien podría salir en una guía de viajes de Filipinas. Las estrellas de bambú son muy chulas y me encanta la idea de empezar a prepararse para la Navidad desde septiembre. Bss y muy felices fiestas:)

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    1. Sí, a mí tb me pareció muy interesante y me llamó mucho la atención la cantidad de palabras españolas que se han quedado en su lenguaje y tradiciones a pesar de la distancia y el tiempo!

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  2. Thank you so much for having me over and for your heartwarming introduction. Big hugs and wishing you a lovely Christmas. I can't believe it's 24th tomorrow. :)

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    1. I can't believe Christmas is already over! In the blink of an eye!
      Thank you for writing such a great post, it was a delight to read :)

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  3. how lovely arni! thanks for sharing this beautiful bit about christmas in the philippines! merry christmas!

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    1. She's very lovely :) I'm glad you like the post!
      Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

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  4. Arni is awesome! And thanks for guest posting! I LOVE learning about traditions from other cultures. I find it so interesting. What fabulous traditions!
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying these guest post, Kim! I might try and do it next yearas well :)

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  5. Arni is the best. Beautiful post, I was hoping she was one of them!! :)

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    1. hehe great to read you're a fan of her as well ;)

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  6. Amazing Post :) Love the collaboration!

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    1. I'm glad to read you enjoyed this post :)

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