It’s already the “ber” months and this could only mean one thing — Christmas season is upon us once again. Yes, without a doubt, Christmas season in the Philippines is the world’s longest. In fact, the festivities start as early as September and end on the first week of January, which means we actually celebrate the Yuletide season for four long but fun months!
If you haven’t felt the Christmas spirit yet, maybe you should visit the mall. Ever been to the mall lately? Yup, you’ve guessed it — Jose Mari Chan, Mariah Carey, and traditional Pinoy and western Christmas carols are already playing on a loop in most malls in the country. And, of course, lest we forget, these malls will probably be on “Christmas sale” almost every weekend for the remainder of the year.
But aside from having the longest Christmas season, what makes our traditions uniquely Pinoy? Here are some traditions all of us look forward to at DMCI Homes when the “ber” months hit our calendars:
Whether in family reunions, company year-enders, schools, or just your barkada’s yearly tradition, Christmas parties are definitely something most of us Pinoys love during the holiday season. What with the sumptuous feast that comes with it, the free drinks, not to mention the fun activities such as the exchanging of gifts, the parlor games, and sometimes, the musical performances by your office mates, cousins, or your classmates — who wouldn’t, really?
However, Christmas parties are so popular during the season that it’ll be hard for you to even book a venue on most days of the season. In fact, some party organizers even try to book as early as the middle of the year.
That’s why for those enjoying luxurious condo living at DMCI Homes communities and you’re planning to host a party, you’re better off getting everything in order as early as now to avoid the problems that come with it.
Now, on Christmas parties, there will usually be exchanging of gifts. Here in the Philippines, to make the gift-giving activity more fun and exciting, we usually play the game Monito-Monita. The rules are quite simple — it’s basically like Secret Santa wherein the identity of the gift giver is kept secret until the day of revelation, which is usually during the Christmas party. The difference of Monito-Monita is you’ll be giving/receiving presents every week (or every day, depending on the rules agreed upon) and there will be a weekly gift “theme” (like something hard and long, something white, something embarrassing, etc.) in which all participants would have to adhere to. Yes, definitely more fun than just the usual giving of gifts, right?
Parol and other decors
One of the Philippines’ top Christmas decorations is the parol or the traditional Filipino Christmas lantern. I’m sure all Pinoys are familiar with it as most homes and business establishments are adorned with parols during the Yuletide season. Traditionally, this lantern is made of bamboo sticks and colorful papers and shaped like a five-pointed star to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem and honor the birth of Christ. However, in recent decades, it has undergone a huge transformation as parols are now made from various materials (steel, plastic, glass, and even fiberglass), fabricated into different shapes and sizes, and adorned with a number of lights and designs.
If you’re looking to add more decors into your home, you can actually make your own wreath, centerpiece, and other Christmas decors. If you’re living in a DMCI condo, you may actually join DMCI communities’ own Christmas decoration contest.
The belen is basically the nativity scene — the Holy Family at the birth of Jesus in a manger — Pinoy-style. Though this decor is also popular in other Catholic countries, we Pinoys take pride in our belens as we make sure the nativity scene is recreated accurately to the minute detail, from the angels coming down from heaven to the infant Jesus lying in the manger.
Like the parol, belens are also a popular Christmas decoration all over the country. In fact, you can see them pretty much anywhere, from churches, schools, restaurants, and homes — indoors or outdoors. It also comes in different sizes and made from various materials.
Moreover, putting up a belen is one of the most fun Christmas activities for families. Kids and adults alike would definitely have a great time positioning all characters (Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, shepherds, angels, the three wise men, the animals, etc.) as well as all the elements (the manger, the star of Bethlehem, etc.) of the nativity scene. Many Filipino families have, in fact, made putting up their belen their family’s Christmas tradition. Truly one of the most fun and meaningful Christmas activities at home!
Bibingka and puto bumbong
As soon as we hit the “ber” months, we can’t help but crave for those favorite Pinoy Christmas delicacies bibingka and puto bumbong. How can we not crave them when these delectable seasonal sweets are sold pretty much everywhere during the Christmas season? And when one smells that sweet, smoky, mouth-watering aroma of these treats covered in shredded coconut, sugar, and margarine, it’s definitely impossible to resist. No wonder, then until now, bibingka and puto bumbong are still two of the top Christmas treats among us Pinoys.
One of the traditions most kids anticipate during Christmas is the giving of aguinaldos. On Christmas day itself, most children wear their finest clothes, visit their ninongs, ninangs, and relatives and pay their respects through the age-old tradition of “pagmamano” and, in return, get their aguinaldo, which basically means gifts of either toys, clothes, or even money. As you would expect, this tradition makes Christmas the most prosperous day for Filipino children.
Home/community Christmas decorating contests
As you may well know, one of the most anticipated holiday activities in the Philippines is putting up Christmas decorations at home. Now, imagine if everyone in your community comes together to make your neighborhood look more festive.
If you’re a DMCI Homes resident, there’s actually another way to get an early Christmas aguinaldo. To mark the start of the holiday season, DMCI Homes kicks off the Magical Holiday: A Community Christmas Contest.
DMCI Homes residents can decorate their communities with the most imaginative Christmas decorations you can think of. Not only will this contest make your community more tight-knit, you and your neighbors will also get the chance to win up to a whopping fifty thousand pesos! How’s that for an early Christmas treat?
Also known as Misa de Gallo, Simbang Gabi is an age-old tradition wherein Filipinos flock in churches before the break of dawn to hear the holy mass in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ. This tradition originated in the Spanish colonial period when a lot of Filipinos work early in the morning in rice fields.
Aside from being devout Catholics and, of course, anticipating Jesus’ birth, many Filipinos attend Simbang Gabi so that their personal wishes would be fulfilled. That’s because according to the traditional Filipino belief, you must attend the early morning mass for nine days (starting from December 16 until Christmas Eve) for your wish to come true.
With all these unique traditions, we could say that Christmas celebration in the Philippines is one of the most festive in the world. Where else can you even feel the Christmas spirit as early as September, right? Especially when you’re living in a DMCI condo property.