In the Philippines, the Christmas season starts in September. Undoubtedly, it has the longest and probably, the merriest celebration, as colorful lights and lanterns deck their homes and lines in shopping malls begin to build up. As a culture-rich country, Filipinos celebrate the holidays in the most creative, fun, and heartwarming ways. Here's how they do it:
Because more than half of the Philippines' population are Catholics, it has been part of many Filipinos' routine to attend a nine-day series of night Masses (or eight days for pre-dawn Masses) leading up to Christmas day. Whether coming straight from the office or school at night or waking up at dawn, they always find a way to finish this series as they believe that a wish would be granted when it is completed. Adding to the Christmas vibes are lines of street vendors selling "bibingka" or rice cake and "puto bumbong" or purple yam-flavored sticky rice steamed in bamboo tubes and topped with cheese, margarine, shredded dried coconut and sugar.
As soon as the “ber” months arrive, Filipino creativity gets to its peak as venues, buildings, and parks get spruced up for the holidays. Many parks, as well as public highways and streets get adorned with colorful lights and decorations as they compete to become Instagram-worthy spots. Some even become exhibits with grandiose and impressive displays to showcase their culture or story. Bazaars also pop up in public locations where Filipinos grab their stash of seasonal food and items that are both perfect for gift-giving or for keeping.
For most Filipinos, it is not surprising to receive three invitations for Christmas parties in December. Filipinos like to party, to celebrate, to have fun, and of course, to share good food. This becomes an opportunity for Filipinos abroad to come home and attend family reunions that are typically celebrated during Noche Buena. It also becomes a time to catch up with long-lost relatives or close friends who they haven't spoken to in a long time.
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Filipinos are known for their long holiday celebration. Many traditions and new ways keep this season alive no matter which city or town you go. You won't run out of things to do (but your budget probably will!) when you celebrate the holidays in the Philippines through these activities:
It's this time of the year when massive pop-up year-end bazaar and sale events happen, so go ahead and take advantage of the markdown madness to complete your Christmas gift list.
How many masses have you attended so far? Get up early or spare an hour so you could attend the mass at night because as they say, completing the 9-day or -night series will make a wish come true.
As soon as the holiday season comes, many parks and tourist attractions open Christmas-themed shows that are perfect for all ages. These Instagram-worthy locations are usually free of charge, making them picturesque and cheery venues to gather with your friends and families.
It has been part of the Filipino tradition to gather in groups and sing either classic or remixed tunes as they go from one house to another. Just as long as you know the lyrics to the in-trend Christmas songs, you'll definitely get those coins, or if you're lucky, you'll receive bills from your kind neighbors!
Many Filipinos love merrymaking, so expect most of your December weekends, and sometimes, weekdays too, to blocked off with schedules of parties. It's also a time to meet the newborns or catch up with the relatives who you haven't spoken to for a long time. Make your reunion party more memorable and let SweetEscape photographers turn your moments into beautiful photographs. Special for this holiday season, get 50% OFF on your 2-hour photo shoot, anywhere in Manila.
The Filipino version of Secret Santa is a more exciting and interesting one because gift-giving is done in small batches. Whether the category's something big, something fluffy, something embarrassing, or something naughty, you'll surely go home with a smile on your face because your friend or officemate could surely find a gift to pull that category or theme off!
For some Filipinos, the holiday season means quality time, without the hassle of preparing feasts or organizing parties. Some simply prefer staying in or booking an accommodation where they could all relax and exchange thoughtful gifts after a hearty meal.
To some who've been looking forward to a unique kind of celebration for the holidays, setting off to another country is an option. School or office breaks give them a chance to explore new places, making their holidays a more memorable one.
In times like these, memories are meant to be saved. Especially if you've waited long enough for your family to be complete this holiday season, don't miss the chance to document those moments — let SweetEscape do it for you.
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