Christmas in the Philippines is so extravagantly celebrated by all types of people whether by an ordinary or a well-to-do family. It’s just part of the lives of the Filipinos. Some countries are just so amazed on how Filipinos are so hooked up to this season when it is coming near. Looking at its rich history will explain further why it is celebrated differently by Filipinos.
Foundation of Christianity
The history of Christmas in the Philippines is derived from the foundation of Christianity developed by colonizers. Philippines is widely known to be the fifth of the largest Christian country where 93% are devotees and is considered to be the third largest Catholic country in the world, according to Wikipedia.
Although there are Indonesian and Malay who first to live in this country and made an influence to the culture, It was the Portuguese explorer and navigator, Ferdinand Magellan who said to have discovered and claimed the region, formerly known as “Spice Island.” These Spanish colonizers brought the Christianity in 1521 when they first arrived in Cebu and has ruled the entire nation for more than 300 years. Consequently, Christmas in this nation is largely influenced by this long Spanish Colony.
History of Christmas in the Philippines is marked by the rich Hispanic-influenced famous traditions such as the Misa de Gallo or the early morning service that begins at 4:00am in the 16th of December and ends at 10:00 in 24th of December; the Belen which signifies and symbolizes the nativity scene of Mary and Joseph as they look for a place to stay for the birth of Jesus; the Parol which is a five-pointed star shaped lantern displayed among every houses, churches, schools, stores and city streets that also symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Magis as they were looking for the Messiah.
All of this customs and tradition points to their boldness of professing their faith and belief towards God which permeates many aspects of life.
The Spanish colonization over the Philippines has ended when the Philippines together with the United States won the war against them in 1898. The Philippines once thought that US is only helping them to attain their independence but Americans refused to give it to them so they remain in the country to stay and it lasted from 1898 to 1946. During those years, the American colonization has brought influences in the lifestyle and culture of the Philippines.
One of those influences is the manner of celebrating their Christmas. They have brought the traditional roasting of chestnut and the white Christmas. They also have introduced Christmas cards, Christmas carols, and the Santa Claus with his reindeers. Displaying of Christmas tree at home also derived from their culture.
Christmas in the Philippines Today
The Christmas that Philippines have nowadays is a mixture of the native, eastern and western influences. It made this celebration so unique that all Filipinos cherished and became proud of. Other countries might be wondering why this is a huge celebration for Filipinos but for them it is simply a declaration of how they really value their culture of hospitality and care for their families and loveones.