100 Days Before Christmas in the Philippines

PASKO means CHRISTMAS (Photo courtesy of http://migs.wordpress.com/)
PASKO means CHRISTMAS (Photo courtesy of http://migs.wordpress.com/)
Christmas in the Philippines (Photo courtesy of http://seasite.niu.edu/)
Christmas in the Philippines (Photo courtesy of http://seasite.niu.edu/)
Simbang Gabi or Early Morning Mass (Photo courtesy of http://filipinodesserts.net/)
Simbang Gabi or Early Morning Mass (Photo courtesy of http://filipinodesserts.net/)

100 days before Christmas in the Philippines involve ample preparations until the celebration of the birth of the Messiah (Jesus Christ), traditionally done on December 25th. This is probably the longest commemoration being held in the country involving traditional and modern ways to show the religiosity of the people.

When you hear the word 'pasko' (it means pascua in Spanish or Christmas), you are already in the country.

The countdown started September 17 this year (2010). Prior to this, the lighting of the commemorative 'parols' or star-lanterns adorning key cities' plazas started at the first day of the said month.

As early as this date and writing, I am starting to collect shots of memorable photos this coming Christmas at places that interest me. I started interviewing close friends regarding their views and opinions on the forthcoming event this December.

My friends share the same opinion: "that Christmas brings positive outlook in life to most people, Christians, especially and inspiration to strive more for the greater glory of God."

So, allow me to unfold my little discoveries regarding the most anticipated holiday season in the Christiandom.

Christmas in the Philippines c/o denissalvatierra

Star lanterns (Photo courtesy of http://clickthecity.com/)
Star lanterns (Photo courtesy of http://clickthecity.com/)

Christmas Lantern-Making and the Christmas Trees

Filipinos are ingenious as they utilize local materials to produce a product they can call their own, just like the Parol (Farol in Spanish) during Christmastime.

Basically, a typical parol will be made out of bamboo sticks and crepe (rice paper) or japanese paper (papel de hapon) with two dangling tails. But as the time goes by, more improvement can be seen as materials like iron bars are used to make it more lasting. It's not the usual five-pointed star anymore in order to indicate that it's the 'star of Bethlehem' where the Son of God, Jesus Christ was born to dwell with us and save us from sins. You can now see more and more innovations regarding these 'stars'.

Nowadays, you can choose what to buy, from little, medium, large or super large star lanterns that you want to adorn your home during the Christmas season.

Although it's Hispanic in origin, you can appreciate the creativeness of the Filipinos when it comes to parol-making or Christmas lantern-making, as they make it a point to excel with that they're doing and make it as a livelihood, too.

Among the most popular 'star' lantern haven is San Fernando, Pampanga where they observe Lantern Festival every December. You will admire parols built largely adorned with blinking colored lights, coupled with built-in Christmas music.

Meanwhile, the Lighting of Christmas Trees usually excite parishioners this early of September or November. Giant Christmas trees usually adorn the center of the plazas decorated with colorful electric Christmas lights.

You can buy any sizes of it (plastic-made) at many super marts or just along the streets where seasonal vendors flock to sell their goods (ranging from plastic lanterns and Christmas trees).

Star ng Pasko-The 2009 ABS-CBN Christmas Station ID (w/ English Sub-Titles) c/o SnoAnnMDigon

Caroling in the Philippines (Photo courtesy of http://tourisminthephilippines.com/)
Caroling in the Philippines (Photo courtesy of http://tourisminthephilippines.com/)
Caroling in the USA (Photo courtesy of http://littleshamrocks.com/)
Caroling in the USA (Photo courtesy of http://littleshamrocks.com/)

Christmas Caroling

As early as September, you can now hear Christmas carols or Christmas tunes being played massively on the radio. I used to do this, when I was assigned as a 'mystery disc jockey' on our FM station (my moonlight work while regularly working as news-writer and reporter in the AM radio of the same company). Who can resist the Christmas songs that relive some good memories, especially the traditional ones that make us closer to God.

Most kids, specially street urchins, are fond of making little instruments out of discarded milk cans or even bottles, just to accompany their high-pitched voices to earn little goodies and money while singing Christmas carols.

In many churches, they even formed a Christmas choir in order to formalize singing in special occasion.

Some choir even ask permission from the local government in order to solicit money for Christmas activities.

Alas, Christmas caroling also evolved into a business-like pattern, but I prefer the traditional singing. Now they incorporate it with catchy tunes (like RnB, disco or dance tunes) that mostly appeal to children.

Memorable Christmas songs I usually like are Silent Night, Oh, Holy Night among others. It truly give meaning to the true essence of Christmas.

The Manger (Photo courtesy of http://toworshipyou.com/)
The Manger (Photo courtesy of http://toworshipyou.com/)

Belen-Making

Manger is a symbolism and the place where the Son of God was born in order to show humility among His dominion.

Belen-making  here in the Philippines or adorning a makeshift manger (any available indigenous materials) with the First Family icons (Baby Jesus, Virgin Mary and Joseph), animals (sheep, cows, camels) and the Three Magi (Three Kings) with the gifts (gold, incense and myrrh) is a common scene in the communities wherein people get their seasonal livelihood from it.

Belen and related products remind us of the place called Bethel or Bethlehem in the Middle East where the Son of God was born in a lowly manger.

When you go out the streets in many key cities in the country, belen vendors offer an array of versions, ranging from clay products or even  a 3-D like version. Some even have a pipe-in Christmas songs to listen to.


16 Days before December 25th

If you are truly a believing Christian, you must fulfill your promise to attend an early morning mass we still call Simbang Gabi (evening mass). Well, I think it's a fallacy. I can't even complete it, amid the invitation of my friends to just go with the flow, snoring inside the church and not even listening to the Gospel being recited by the priest.

in my teenage days, we used to frequent church facade, just hearing the mass at a distance while conversing about youthful topics (courtship, friendship and all), oblivious of the essence of the rites. Now, I know better.

We used to dig the best native Filipino delicacies that street vendors are offering...colored sticky rice products, like puto bumbong (usually violet in color steamed inside a young bamboo pole), bibingka (rice cakes) and the like. Ginger ale or salabat is the best beverage to accompany those native products.

While the traditional date, December 25th, nears, more and more activities can be seen in the Catholic churches in the archipelago. Reenactment of the Virgin Mother Mary about to deliver the infant Jesus is still observed or the so-called Panuluyan. Misa de Gallo (Mass before Christmas) is also celebrated.

Gift-giving excites many children, especially those who are less fortunate to have a 'true' family in many orphanages. I used to be part of this, linking our donations with the local branch of DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) that always help us in distributing our little goodies, even with the Home for the Aged.

Who says that Christmas is for children only? Even the elders are not exemptions to the graces coming from God during the holiday season.

For the youth, Christmas concerts are hard to resist. Many families partake with free concerts at the plaza, showcasing local and national talents, as well.


The Legendary Santa Claus (Photo courtesy of http://25decchristmasday.wordpress.com/)
The Legendary Santa Claus (Photo courtesy of http://25decchristmasday.wordpress.com/)

Santa Claus is children's favorite

I must admit that I was enamored with Santa Claus, that big-fat bellied old man with white mustache and beard,  greeting children with his big voice: "Ho!Ho!Ho! Merry Christmas!"

I was full with question about the 'realness' of this Christmas figure (I did a hub about him a year ago and found out that he's actually a priest in olden Europe). His legendary appeal attracts children to do good tidings during Christmas season because they expect more gifts from him (chocolates, candy canes, toys, etc.).

Now that I'm already at the prime of my life (30+++), I still appreciate him but not as strong as I did when I was a child. I still dream of 'white Christmas' and Santa Claus with his 12 reindeer (the red-nosed Rudolph and his peers) riding his sleigh, distributing gifts to all chidlren around the world.

Erik Santos ASAP Dec 6, 2009 Opening - Sa May Bahay Ang Aming Bati | SIlent Night Na Naman c/o ErikSantos09

Photo courtesy of http://achristmasstoryhouse.com/
Photo courtesy of http://achristmasstoryhouse.com/

Watching Christmas Cartoons

Animated movies depicting Christmas themes are what I crave most during the season. I am an by heart and those Disney movies will never fade in my heart.

The rendition of old songs in animated ways are the highlights of those movies intended for children and young at hearts, like me.

Who could resist the classic melodies of Silent Night, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing or Holy Night? These are some of the songs that really give true meaning to the Christmas Story.

Mariah Carey - O Holy Night + lyrics c/o The FirstMClamb02

12 days of Christmas

Among the Christmas songs I memorized when I was a child then, Twelve Days of Christmas is among those catchy tunes that enumerated the 12 symbols of Christmas:

  1. Partridge -symbolizes Jesus Christ or the Love of God
  2. Turtle doves - the Old and New Testaments
  3. French hens - the Three Kings or it can also be Faith, Hope & Charity or the so-called Theological Virtues
  4. Calling birds - the four Gospels and the Four Evangelists
  5. Golden rings - the first five Books of Old Testament or the Pentateuch
  6. Geese-a-laying - refers to the six days of creation.
  7. Swans-a-swimming - Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit or seven sacraments.
  8. Maids-a-milking - refers to the Eight Beatitudes
  9. Ladies dancing - Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
  10. Lords a- leaping - the Ten Commandments
  11. Pipers piping - eleven faithful apostles to Jesus Christ
  12. Drummers drumming - 12 points of doctrine to the Apostle's Creed.

It is but fitting to know this song by heart and share it with your children with the corresponding meaning, not just gagging or making pun on the song.

Twelve days of Christmas start from December 25th until the Boxing Day or Epiphany and even Ninos Inocentes that usually falls on January 6th or the celebration of the Magi or Three Kings.

12 days of Christmas - Muppets & John Denver c/o raggiey

Make your own Christmas List

What do you want for Christmas, lots of earthy gifts or the enlightenment of your spirit? Whether you choose the first or the latter, it is most effective to fulfill it by way of listing down what you should do during the holiday season.

  1. Christmas is for kids. This can be true, so you better plan ahead about the gifts your are about to give to your nephews and nieces, to your godsons and goddaughters.
  2. Christmas sales are everywhere...from decorations, cheeses, groceries and gifts. Most mall staff and owners prepared baskets of goodies that buyers or customers can choose from. Just be wise and buy the most appropriate for your needs.
  3. Sending Christmas cards still give excitement to the receivers, even we can usually greet our friends and family members through chat or social media in the internet. Postcards are also a come-on during this season. I'm still collecting stamps, you know.
  4. Hearing masses every Sunday or frequently can add more essence to you, to all of us, being a Christian.
  5. Do a good turn daily should be our motto from now on.

Have you made already your own Christmas What-To-Do List?

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer c/o CrazyToonWorld

Wanted: Christmas Odd Jobs

Need for an extra income. Yes, you can easily apply these days, as the Christmas season nears and the anticipation of everyone can be felt in the air. Grocery stores, super marts and other business establishments catering to service often attract customers with the following additional jobs:

  1. Display Artist - Window Shop artists or backdrop decorators are the in-thing these days. An added income will not hurt you if you like designing the store's window with Christmas motif.
  2. Santa Claus - Schools of Santa Claus are active the whole year round, although the concentration of Santa wannabes are only seen during Christmas season. Who knows, you can be chosen as one of traveling Santa Claus giving all the gifts to the needy children.
  3. Bell Ringer - How much time can you last with this kind of job, a bell ringer. It's not a big one, but Salvation Army in the USA have volunteers that do it with gusto (as part of their voluntary service to the non-government organization.
  4. Mascot - Many Christmas characters come alive during the season. You can be one of them, by wearing one of its mascots. It's very hot in there, but with the aid of the mall's air conditioning units, working like this can be so easy (err heavy).
  5. Gift-wrap artist - With so many gifts that will be bought by eager customers, gift-wrap service crew is very much needed at the mall.  You can show your skills wrapping gifts of many sizes (big or small).

There are countless odd jobs that are open during Christmas season. It's up to you to grab it for an added income. I know, it pays the bills.

Fruitcake- a must for  Christmas (Photo courtesy of http://cajunpecanhouse.com/)
Fruitcake- a must for Christmas (Photo courtesy of http://cajunpecanhouse.com/)

There's a Fruitcake for everybody

Aside from Hamon (cured pork) and Queso de Bola (cheese ball), Filipinos are beginning to like Fruitcakes, lots of fruitcakes.

Once you get hooked into eating fruitcakes during Christmas, one caution is to eat it slowly to savor the succulent taste of the mixed of fresh and dried fruits and the wine or brandy flavor.
With hundreds of recipes in tow, from dark to light ones, an easy fruitcake recipe will be a welcome to a beginner and the budget consideration upon completing all the ingredients.
Ingredients:

  • 1 package spice cake mix (2 layer size)
  • 1 package (3 3/4 ounces) instant lemon pudding mix
  • 2/3 cup apricot nectar
  • 1/4 cup Apricot brandy
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied cherries
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Glaze, optional
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons apricot brandy

Preparation:

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, apricot nectar, 1/4 cup apricot brandy, and vegetable oil. Beat on medium speed until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Fold in the chopped fruits and nuts. Turn batter into a generously greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. BAke at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes for 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan then remove to a rack to cool thoroughly. For best flavor, wrap and store in refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

Combine 2 to 3 tablespoons of apricot brandy with 1 cup confectioners' sugar; drizzle over fruitcake before serving, if desired.

How to Cook Classic Christmas Meals : Traditional Fruit Cake Recipe c/o expertvillage

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Comments 14 comments

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

What fun! And you have covered everything. Right down to baking the dreaded fruit cake - which may just be okay if you do it yourself.

I really like the idea of starting on Sept. 17. Why not have fun everyday and celebrate instead of one day or the day before or the week before. I do want to enjoy myself - so your hub has inspired me - to start enjoying, now!

Lovely hub! Rated up and thanks so much!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

BkCreative: Thanks for that awesome rating. It's a superb starter on this hub! I had a lot of inspirations doing this. I'll try updating the photos as the Christmas 2010 nears.

I'll be making a home-made fruitcake one of these days. It will be a 'dreaded' one (hehehe! Just kidding)!

Happy holidays!


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

This is a great hub - very informative and entertaining. Actually my daughter-in-law is a Filipino and we do enjoy celebrating with them for Christmas and New Years. They know how to party and yummy food, too. Thanks for sharing.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

Glad to hear that, Ms. Elayne. Actually, I've made this hub three months ahead of the Christmas celebration in the Philippines just to draw enthusiasm among readers on the net. Likewise, promoting the Christmas spirit here in the country where most negative events are happening this year, And most importantly, to bring back the good old Filipino values and their belief to our Creator.


earthbound1974 profile image

earthbound1974 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

This is a very informative hub. Glad I've read this, travel man. For me, everyday is Christmas and I thank the Lord God in bringing the celebration to the world. He gave His only Begotten Son to save us from sins. That's the very BIG lesson that we should always remember why life is so precious.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

Thanks for the enlightenment, earthbound. Amid the luxuries we are experiencing these days, we should not forget where we came from. The humble example of that Blessed Child Jesus in the Manger should be our model to strive happily in this world.


Fluffy77 profile image

Fluffy77 5 years ago from Enterprise, OR

Wonderful worlds of Christmas, they are very Grand that's for sure! Very beautiful and moving hub, good work! Keep it up.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

I almost covered the whole world, Fluffy77. Right? Thanks for the appreciation!


Philippinewander 5 years ago

I liked how you mixed the narrative with very fitting pictures! I was reminded of Christmas spent in sa Pilipinas!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@Philippinewander: And the longest Christmas ever! Whew!! Yet, people in all walks of life, still celebrate it for 100 days!

Thanks for the appreciation. Perhaps you'll celebrate another Christmas here in the Phils. if you have ample time to do it. :D


kingphilipIV profile image

kingphilipIV 5 years ago from Iloilo, Philippines

I'm also a Filipino and I love how you made this hub. It has full of information and very great.. I will going to spend my Christmas this year in the Philippines together with my family..


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Travel man- I missed this the first time around and followed it from KingphilipIV's link. This is a wonderfully delightful hub for the holidays, filled with such interesting information.

One of the things I learned from reading your hub, which I did not know throughout my years of singing this Christmas carol, was the symbolism of the 12 days of Christmas. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Rated up and interesting!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@kingphilipIV: Pardon me for this overdue reply. I'm just as happy to be hearing from you as your finished reading this hub.

Wishing you a happy Christmas with your family here in the Philippines.

Salamat, kabayan!


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

@Denise Handlon: Thanks for appreciating my efforts in compiling the information on this hub regarding Christmas.

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