Christmas in the Hearts of Every FilipinoA time for family, for sharing, for giving, and a time for food, fun, and friendship, this is a simple meaning of Christmas for a Filipino. The Philippines is known as the land of fiestas and at Christmas time, this is especially true. Filipinos are proud to proclaim their Christmas celebration to be the longest and merriest in the world. It begins formally on December 16, with attendance at the first to nine pre-dawn or early morning masses and continues nonstop until the first Sunday of January, the feast of the three kings is the official end of the season.
Being the only Asian country where Christians predominate. Majority of its people is Roman Catholic. Christmas, therefore, is an extremely important and revered holiday for most Filipinos. Even other religions who do not celebrate and believe in Christmas, were participating not in the celebration itself but doing business that is in relevance to the occasion, which makes the people living in the country more united and happy during the merry season.
To most Filipinos, Christmas is the most anticipated fiesta of the year and is celebrated accordingly. The splendid climate of this tropical island nation, the abundance and beauty of its flowers, and lovely landscape, its multitude of culinary delights, and above all its warm-hearted people with their true devotion to family and faith all contribute to a holiday celebrated in the true Philippines fiesta tradition.
As soon as December sets in, everyone in the Philippines, young and old alike is busy preparing for the biggest religious activity on December 25. Houses are cleaned, painted and decorated with new colorful curtains, Christmas decorations and multicolored lights Lanterns of different Christmas tree and a Belen are placed in the living rooms.
The nine-day masses or Misa de Gallo, celebrated at dawn when the cock starts to crow begin on December. These masses are well-attended although those who attend wake up as early as three o'clock in the morning. As one walks to the church, one will notice the streets lined with small stores selling puto, bibingka and puto bumbong. These are Filipino delicacies that are truly present wherever place or city you may go during the season.
The climax of the Christmas celebration is a midnight mass on Christmas Eve, December 24. The family makes an effort to go to this mass despite all the firecrackers in the streets. On Christmas day children dressed in their best attires to visit ninongs, ninangs, relatives and friends, they kiss the hands of the elders as a sign of respect. In return the elders give them money gifts or native delicacies. And of course who would forget the time for exchanging gifts, we are all acquainted with the tradition since our younger years, in school, offices and everywhere. Christmas is for everyone and at no other time of the year is the family more complete. Even married children who are abroad making a special effort to be home in the Philippines for Christmas. In my heart and in the hearts of every Filipino, Christmas is one celebration and season that are truly worth remembering.
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