Christmas in the Philippines

Kelm Lear, Reporter

Living in the United States, we are all aware that many different types of holidays are celebrated here. But we aren’t all aware of what types of holidays are celebrated and how. In this article, you will explore a world of festivities from half a world away, but also in your same community.

“A major difference is that Filipinos will start celebrating Christmas once September comes around,” said Gabriel Obenieta, sophomore. “It’s known as the ‘ber’ months because we celebrate in September, October, November, and December.”

Obenieta moved to the United States with his family when he was just four years old. Another thing he mentioned was that it was interesting that in the United States, Christmas decorations aren’t put up until after Thanksgiving.

Similar to how people hang snowflakes from their ceilings, many Filipino families “hang up this thing called Parol,” said Obenieta. A parol is a star-shaped lantern, representing the star that guided the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus.

Filipinos also find keeping “Christ” in Christmas very important. According to Obenieta, many families set up a nativity scene in their household.

Along with gifts and time with family, another key part of any holiday is the food.

“We prepare dishes we make for most other celebrations,” said sophomore Humphry Del Castillo, a friend of Obeineta who immigrated from the Philippines at the age of three. “Our food isn’t just exclusive for Christmas. Foods include lumpia, pancit, lechon kawali, shumai, embutido, crispy pata, ham, and lechon.”

Being Roman Catholic, religion serves a vital role in Obenieta and Del Castillo’s holiday celebration.

“Catholic Filipinos participate in a nine-day Novena (a form of Roman Catholic worship) called Simbang Gabi,” said Del Castillo. “In the Philippines, I’ve heard that masses start at 4 a.m. The Novena ends on Christmas Eve and it’s believed that if you complete the full nine days of mass, you can make a wish and it will be granted.”