Christmas In The Philippines
As many of you know, the Christmas season in the Philippines is long. Nearly half of the year is considered Christmas in the Philippines to many of those living here. The months ending in “ber” are known as the “Ber Months.” But some start their celebration of Christmas in late August and it carries on into early January.
The final nine days of Christmas in the Philippines are known as Simbang Gabi. Simbang Gabi is a Roman Catholic ritual novena. A
novena is a devotion of nine days successive of prayer.
The beginning of the period of prayer here in Bogo City is a fireworks display. The fireworks went off on the 16th not long after nightfall. So this period of quiet prayer starts off with a big bang.
Misa de Gallo
On the last day of Simbang Gabi is called Misa de Gallo. This translates as Rooster’s Mass. This mass is held at sunrise on Christmas Eve.
This tradition started because the Spaniards were working the Filipino hard in the fields. Though the Filipino were tired and numb with work they wanted to celebrate mass. The land holders didn’t want the Filipino to stop working. So, the priest decided to hold mass before the sun came up and work began.
In Bogo, the church bells ring every morning about 3:30am so there is always a mass of the rooster in this city. Bogo City is a fishing and farming village. I suspect the early morning mass each day comes from the same need. Filipino here are off to work in the fields, fishermen leave the port early or return early in the morning. Of course, Bogo has grown and there are offices and retail stores now but I can envision a different scene not so long ago.
Christmas In The Philippines Is More About Family
Christmas in the Philippines is less commercial than it is in the Western world. Filipino are strong in their devotion to the Catholic church. Filipino are usually quite conservative at least publicly. Vices are abundant as humans all have their desires some of which the majority feel is taboo.
Family and religion play a major role in binding the Filipino people together. These kinds of religious activities are deeply felt and strengthen the bonds of the Filipino community. They become more evident during Christmas in the Philippines
Quite a few Filipino, especially the women, seem to be frustrated with the church involvement in politics. Even then, meeting the standard of the community, usually based on popular Christian religious beliefs guides them in their day to day activities.
In Cebu City, 60 extra police will be patrolling the churches during this period and the chief of police in Cebu warned people living in the Philippines to be on the look out for people watching their homes when they leave for mass. It seems some of those vices include theft while people are at church.
Enjoy Christmas In The Philippines
So many Westerners complain about Christmas music in September. Hey, it is their culture. Is it really such a bad thing? I think not. I think we Westerners tend to see it that way because of what Christmas has become in the west. A way to get us to spend more money and charge up our credit cards.
Don’t be a scrooge! Instead be happy that Christmas in the Philippines last for nearly half the year!
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