Filipinos discover how to party. And one of the most celebrated, most awaited holidays are Christmas and New Year’s. The locals don’t really make preparations for Halloween and Thanksgiving, so people start festivities as soon as September. By the first day of the -ber months, Christmas songs are playing on radio stations. People start buying their Christmas gifts (when they haven’t finished already). Here are a few trademarks from the Pinoy Christmas:

Parol: Native Christmas Ornament
The parol may be the classic symbol of Pasko (Christmas). It’s basically a five-point star, hung with tails or tassels sprouting from your bottom two points. Materials used in causeing this to be range between thin wooden sticks and colorful paper, to steel frames with shell or glass with matching electronic lights. Aside from this common ornament, most Filipinos decorate their houses and workplaces showing their holiday spirit.

Belen: Tableau with the Nativity Scene
Catholicism is still the dominant religion inside the Philippines, although a lot of strong challengers remain. For Catholics, Christmas just isn’t complete with no belen, depicting the scene of Jesus Christ’s birth. Everything is there; the manger and infant Jesus, Mary, Joseph, three kings and their donkeys, shepherds, and barn animals topped with an angel plus a four-point star. Some churches even hold a smaller celebration for placing the child inside manger during the Christmas Eve mass.

Puto Bumbong: Native Rice Dessert
Hands down, this can be my personal favorite kakanin or form of rice cake. Topped with shaved coconut, brown sugar and a lot of butter, this purple rice cake is better enjoyed piping hot. It’s traditionally enjoyed like a treat after hearing dawn masses (read more below), nevertheless, you might have it whenever you want.

Simbang Gabi: Dawn Masses
It’s considered all the best to be able to hear the dawn masses nine times back to back for the nine days before Christmas. Doing this also qualifies one to come up with a free wish! Most people feature themselves and friends (or at best people that find a way to awaken at a few AM). The atmosphere is very Christmassy and happy.
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