Text & Photo: Kaycie Gayle
It has been recognized that the Philippines has the longest Christmas celebration in the world. Christmas season in the country starts in September and ends on the feast of epiphany in January which makes it a total of four months. Having a natural characteristic of being jolly, Filipinos celebrate Christmas merrily and would want their surrounding to have that jovial vibe as well. Each household is decorated with festive ornaments that exude the Christmastide to partake in the observance of the season. This decoration extends to the streets where community comes together. Neighborhood collaborate and combine efforts together to put some adornment on their streets. From the indoor to the outdoor of every household, to the streets and even to the major roads, the Christmas atmosphere can be really felt. As you pass along the streets, Filipinos devotion on celebrating this season is clearly evident.
1.Christmas lights and lanterns
The most common decoration among Filipino household during this time of the year is the colorful ‘parol’ or Christmas lantern. In the Philippines, this is the ultimate symbol of Christmas. It has become a fixture in Christmas-decorated homes and often found in front of the doors and windows. Festive decors are proudly displayed as an indication of the anticipation of the holidays. To encourage people to join in this communal effort, some groups would organize contests for the most stunning Christmas lantern, or decorated home. Some Filipinos also come out early on to give people a head start on decorating their own homes. Moreover, private businesses and local government units participate in this Christmas decorating effort, that’s why it is common to see buildings and posts on the streets adorned with Christmas displays. In addition to the ‘parol’, you may also see stringed lights that complement the lantern.
2. Christmas Songs
Filipinos are fond of playing Christmas songs to feel even more that Christmas is on its way. They listen to both famous foreign songs and those that have been written by Filipinos. These are played repeatedly every Christmas season and you may hear it as you walk along the streets or pass along bazaars. They are often used as a background music to trigger or amplify that nice Christmas feel. Shoppers, sellers and passers-by would even get carried away and would hum or sing along with the songs. Meanwhile, on some rare occasions, you may come across Christmas carolers and hear them sing Christmas songs live.
3. Christmas Bazaar – Night Market
Since Christmas is the most awaited season of the year, Filipinos are really preparing for it and are willing to spend more to celebrate it. Being the season of giving and sharing, Filipinos are fond of buying gifts for their family, friends, and relatives and they are doing it in advance. They are also buying their ‘pamasko’ (something they’ll wear on Christmas parties and the day itself) decorations, and other things needed for the Christmas celebration and parties. Hence, when you walk along the streets you may notice that the number of night markets and bazaars increases during this season.
4. Christmas street foods (bibingka, puto bumbong)
As you walk along the streets you may smell the aroma of seasonal Christmas food being sold by vendors. Two of the most common food that will tickle your taste buds are the ‘Bibingka‘ and ‘puto bumbong’. You may occasionally get these delectable freshly steamed traditional rice cakes at any time of the year but they have become special among Filipinos particularly during Christmas time. These are often sold in smoky stalls and are often eaten on an early breakfast or at night. Every Christmas season, food vendors selling these delicacies increases and can be seen on the streets.
5. Family bonding
While it is normal to see Filipino families on the streets, but every Christmas season is a little different and special. You would see them bonding together while looking at Christmas lights and decorations, or simply spending a night out together to enjoy ‘puto bumbong’ or ‘bibingka’, Other times you see parents trying on some clothes on their child to see if the size fits and buy it for them
Filipinos decorate their homes during Christmas to feel the season, as well as to make their place inviting for the people they expect to come and new friends to visit. The streets are designed for neighborhood’s communal celebration as well as welcome others. Filipinos understood that making Christmas evident on each household, streets and locale, has a way of making people feel kinder merry and comforted. They want to extend this positive feeling to others as it is the season of loving, sharing and togetherness. Philippine streets may not be as spotlessly clean and clear and may not have sophisticated infrastructures as others but it sure does emit warmth, joy, and harmony especially at night.
Any thoughts on Philippine streets during the Christmas season? Share it with us in the comments below.
Happy Travels! 💛
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