Filipino Christmas: Overview
The Philippines is a great place to be at Christmas. This intensely religious country takes the birth of Christ extremely seriously – a near month-long festival begins with the Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster) at dawn on the 16 December and finishes on the 6 January with the Feast of Kings.
Every night in-between, churches are full to bursting with the faithful praying at midnight masses, never more so than on Christmas Eve itself.
The rich fusion of Christianity and paganism have produced a myriad of Philippine Christmas rituals and traditions. One of the most obvious is the lantern-making craft of parol. These star-shaped lampshades have even started appearing in the shops of Camden Lock and Soho in London, though in a quality far inferior to the ones found in the islands themselves. There you find them hanging in every store and home, shedding their magical glow to herald in the festive season.
If you visit the Philippines over Christmas, there is no shortage of spectacles to discover. Check out San Fernando’s magnificent procession of star-shaped lanterns – the Giant Lantern Festival – and the concerts of carol singing and traditional dancing at the open-air auditorium in the park in central Manila. There is also the beautiful Maytinis Nativity Parade and magical Christmas festival, the Laoag City Lantern Parade, Pastores Bikol folk festival and wonderful New Year festivities all over the islands.