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CHRISTMAS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Nativity Scene keys holiday home décor

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POSTED December 23, 2016 6:55 p.m.



The Nativity Scene was the important décor coming from a Filipino household.
My mom grew up in the Philippines – in the Leyte province of Palompon.
She was a very religious person, and made it known that the Nativity signified the true meaning of Christmas.
Every season, Filipino homes and buildings are decorated with the traditional star-shaped lanterns known as parol.
Christmas in the Philippines isn’t just one day but rather several months – depending on region – making it one of the longest celebrations in the world.
The singing of Christmas carols can be heard as early as September and going through January with either the Three Kings’ Day (12th night after Christmas), Feast of the Epiphany (first Sunday of the year), the Feast of the Black Nazarene (Jan. 9) or the Feast of the Santo Nino (third Sunday of January).
Many Christmas parties are held during the second week of December, with activities including Monito / Monita, musical or theatrical performances, and games.
A Filipino party isn’t a party without food. It’s customary for folks to bring their favorite dishes to the potluck.
For that matter, my mom never forgot that part of the tradition, making her lumpia and pancit to our family holiday gatherings.
When we were growing up, she also celebrated the Christmas Eve tradition of Midnight Mass. Fortunately, our parish was a few blocks away from our old house, making walking to church a viable option if parking was scarce.
Some Filipino customs include the Simbang Gabi or the Night Mass, which is a novena of dawn masses from Dec. 16 though 24. Attending the Masses were a sign of devotion, anticipating the birth of Christ during those nine days.
In different provinces and schools, they’ve known to celebrate the journey of Jesus and the pregnant Mary searching for lodging – this pageant modeled after the Spanish Las Posadas is referred to as the “Panunuluyan,” “Pananawagan,” or “Pananapatan.”
My mom and relatives maintained the Christmas Day Filipino custom of sharing that time with family and extended family. We would visit relatives later in the day with plenty of food at those gatherings which lasted through the night.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail vrembulat@mantecabulletin.com.

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