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Pasko (Christmas)

The Philippines is the only Asian nation where Christianity is the religion chosen by the people. Christmas is the most celebrated traditional event of the Filipino people in which the birth of Jesus Christ is relived and welcomed. The celebration of Christmas is marked by the dawn mass called "Misa de Gallo" which begins nine days before Christmas. The entire Christmas celebration depicts the story of the birth of Jesus Christ according to the bible. A renactment of Joseph and Mary's search for shelter to deliver baby Jesus are the usual theme which is represented in a "homemade" manger called "Belen." Each church has a display of the Nativity Scene as reflected in the Belen.

Belen Display - Christmas in Oroquieta City

Christmas is the most awaited and happiest event in the Philippines. The Christmas carols, blown horns, lighted firecrackers, and fireworks that fill the airwaves and home environment are part of the many ways Filipinos express their happy feelings of the season. The Christmas decoration varies from home to home, and Parol is always displayed in every home. Parol is a colorful star-shaped lantern made out of a variety of materials, but a traditional Parol is made from bamboo and lacquered paper. Its size ranges from six inches to twenty feet or more. And of course, Christmas in the Philippines is incomplete without the Christmas Tree.

Nightime Christmas Colors - Oroquieta City Plaza

Although they are not like the beautiful Colorado deep green spruce, the Philippine Christmas tree is made from a real tree. Many Filipinos find it conveniently easy to cut a tree from the backyard, farm or the forest. The leaves of the tree are removed while the branches and the trunk are painted with white. Some people cover the tree with strips of Japanese white or green paper. Each branch is then covered with a stretched cotton balls to reflect a snow-covered tree while various kinds of ornaments are hung all around the tree. The tree stands on a 12-inch can which is painted green or covered with green Japanese paper. The can is then filled with stones for balance. For the families who have the financial means, gifts are then lined up around the tree. However, for the poor the tree is empty and gifts are usually received in the form of money given by the godparents who have the traditional obligation to give presents to their godchildren.

Belen Display - Christmas in Oroquieta City

As Christmas is fast approaching, many carolers begin visiting from house to house and in return Yuletide appreciations are given, such as in the form of money given to carolers. Some carolers also purposely go out for this season to raise money for charity needs, including church youth group. And finally, the good old family tradition of togetherness where every member in the family is expected to come home and enjoy the season to reminisce the past, look towards the future, exchange gifts, feast together or just be with each other to renew the value of family ties.

The basic teachings of Christianity is consumated during this season. The Catholic Church hold the early dawn mass with organized processions leading up to Christmas day. The procession is started at a residential area, passing through several residences and/or small villages while people are gathered to participate in the procession as they move along. The procession is noted by the lighted lanterns, floral decors while participants sing the Christmas carols. In the remote countryside formerly called the Barrios and now called "Barangays", dawn religious services are held in an hour-long prayer and hymns. After the prayer service, a traditional hot snacks are served by a designated family host. Each day from the onset of the first dawn religious service, a family is assigned to be the host and expected to provide hot snacks consisting of hot coffee or hot chocolate, traditional cupcake called "torta," a glutenous sweet rice cake called "biko," and another glutenous dessert wrapped in coconut or banana leaves called "suman or ibos."

The Holiday Season in the Philippines does end at Christmas. As a tradition, the Filipinos continue with their festive occasion through midnight of December 31st where a variety of firecrackers light up the sky to welcome the New Year. Filipinos celebrate the New Year's eve with feast, and marquerade dance where people are dressed in custome "incognito." Then the season ends on first Sunday of January (Feast of the Epiphany), the celebration of the Three (3) Kings: Baltazar, Melchor, and Gaspar.

Ging Mutia

Ging Mutia