BLOG #230: Pasko: Christmas in the Philippines

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(Merry Christmas)



Pasko or Christmas in the Philippines starts once the "ber" months begins.  Filipinos refer to SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, and DecemBER as the "ber" months.  These cold days and long nights also begins.  They say that the longest Christmas celebration happens in the Philippines.  Even long before the "ber" months and after the "ber" months, there are still evidences of Pasko or Christmas.



Even though All Saints' Day/All Souls' Day come ahead before Christmas, people are already planning ahead for Christmas.  Some are already putting up Christmas lights.  Some are already cleaning their houses making way where to put their Christmas tree.  Businesses such as shopping malls and stalls take advantage of the "ber" months to sell Christmas decorations and anything Christmassy.



Everywhere around you, you are bombarded by CHRISTMAS SALE, posters and ads, tv commercials, radio station commercials.  The people are being programmed to buy.  We the consumers are stupid enough to be forced to buy.  We are offered too good to refuse schemes.  Even the banks conspire with everything: gadgets, toys, clothes, cars, house and lot.  We were forced to have it all.


Caroling in the Philippines


Growing up, we enjoy singing carols from house to house.  Together with our friends and neighbors, we would gather at dusk bringing with us homemade instruments.  The most common of which is tambourines made of "tansans" (bottle caps).



To make "tansan" (bottle caps) tambourine, you will need:

  1. Bottle caps
  2. Wire
  3. Hammer and nail or something to punch hole in the bottle caps.


To start:

  1. Flatten the bottle caps with the hammer.  This is optional.
  2. If you think you have enough bottle caps, use a nail and the hammer to punch hole in the center of the bottle caps.
  3. String the punched bottle caps into the wire.
  4. Loop and tie the ends of the wire together forming a big ring.  Be sure not to fill the wire with bottle caps to make room for them to shake.



Nowadays, some people go all out.  They use a band to go caroling.  It is common around this time to see bands going around town singing Christmas songs and playing Christmas music.  Schools, churches, and some public and private organizations have their own Christmas cantata or mini-concerts where you will here a capella, solo, choirs sing with joy and happiness.  It is such a nice feeling to be part of such.



Parol is a Spanish word (farol) that means "lantern."  This can be seen everywhere.  It comes in various shapes and colors.  These lanterns look good and colorful during the day and night.  These lanterns are easy to make.

What you need:

  1. 10 bamboo sticks equal in size
  2. 5 (bamboo) pegs equal in size
  3. Rubber bands or elastic string to hold the bamboo together
  4. Glue stick and glue gun
  5. Cellophane, tissue or Japanese paper
  6. Scissors


How to make:

  1. Start by tying the ends of two sticks together with the rubber band to form a V shape.  Make three pairs of these.
  2. Tie the ends of these "Vs" to make a star.
  3. Repeat 1 & 2 for the other remaining bamboo sticks.
  4. Place the two stars on top of each other and tie all five points together securely.
  5. Carefully lift the center of the star to place the pegs at the joints of the pentagon the stars made.
  6. Be sure to place all pegs.
  7. Glue the pegs using your glue gun.
  8. Cover the star with cellophane or any light paper of your choice.
  9. Secure the paper or cellophane to the bamboo using glue gun.

You may also want to accessorize your star by adding ribbons or paper crafts at the tips of the star.



Here's a video tutorial in making Parol or lantern.

Puto Bumbong

Puto Bumbong or steamed glutinous rice cake is a Filipino delicacy that symbolizes Christmas.  "Puto" means steamed rice and "Bumbong" is what they call the bamboo tube where the "puto" or rice is placed to be cooked.



It is said that this dates back to the Spanish time when colonizers brought this kind of cooking to the shores of the Philippines.  The people then were to wake up early in the morning before the sun was up to attend mass and after mass, they enjoy a serving of puto bumbong.  That's why you can see this kind of Filipino delicacy along with other rice cakes sold outside the church.



What you need in making puto bumbong:

  1. I kilo of glutinous rice
  2. 125 grams of ordinary rice
  3. Violet food color
  4. Grated coconut
  5. Butter
  6. Sugar
  7. Water
  8. Salt
  9. Bamboo Tubes
  10. Steamer

Below is a video for you:

Below is a video of how to make puto bumbong without the need for a steamer.


Simbang Gabi

Another practice for the Catholic Filipinos and some other churches is the Simbang Gabi.  Simbang Gabi is what we call Night Mass.  In Spanish it is called Misa de Gallo (Rooster's Mass) or Misa de Aguinaldo (Gift Mass) or Misa de los Pastores (Sherpherd's Mass).



Simbang Gabi or Night Mass starts from December 16 until the eve of Christmas.  Some masses are held as early as 3 a.m.  Attending the mass is showing your devotion to God and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  It is also their belief that when you complete the nine masses, God will grant your wish.  



Noche Buena

Perhaps the most awaited part of the Christmas celebration is the Noche Buena or Christmas Eve.  While some countries have their preferred meal to serve, it has been a tradition that lechon (roasted pig) is served as the main meal when Noche Buena or Christmas Eve comes.



However, this is no longer the case for some.  The cost of this can be too much for others so they just prepare what they can prepare.  What's important is that the family is happy and everyone is merry to enjoy the spirit of Christmas.  This is a time to enjoy the gift of life and to remember God's gift to us, His son, Jesus Christ.


About the author


Loves to travel, nature, hiking, exploring, foodie, photography.

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