Panunuluyan

When it comes to Christmas, no one celebrates it better than the Filipinos. The Philippines is known for celebrating the longest Christmas season in the world.

One of the common celebration is to watch a play called Panunuluyan – a tradition observed in some provinces in the Philippines. The Panunuluyan dramatizes the search for lodging of St Joseph and the very pregnant Virgin Mary. Originally, the images of the two, atop decorated carrozas, are processioned on Christmas eve and taken from house to house, in re-enactment of that event in Bethlehem. The images are preceded by altar boys bearing ciriales (cross and candles on poles) and devotees. Eventually, real people, instead of santos, were cast to assume the roles of Jose and Maria, almost always respectable citizens of the town. The dramatis personae expanded to include the 3 Magis, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar and even a Narrator and a Koro, a Chorus of singers who sang and delivered verses for the Holy Couple.

This tradition may have been adopted from Mexican Posadas and is usually re-enacted after the last Mass before Christmas eve.

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Parols

When it comes to Christmas, no one celebrates it better than the Filipinos. The Philippines is known for celebrating the longest Christmas season in the world.

One unique Filipino Christmas decoration is the parol. Parol or also known as Philippine lantern is traditionally made from colorful papers, bamboo sticks, and shaped like a five-pointed star.

In the early 1900s, these lanterns were originally designed to help villagers find their way to chapels and churches to pray. Today, these lanterns are used to further enhance the spirit of Christmas. Putting up parols in homes, schools, establishments, offices, and schools is a common Filipino tradition.

Nowadays, Filipinos parol makers used new and recycled materials to make parols, like plastic glasses, candy wrappers, soft drink straws, recycled papers and shells. The present day parol come in different shapes and sizes and not necessarily star- shaped:  it can be round, rectangular or even square. It could also be designed like a diorama with the Nativity on it.

Indeed, the parol represents the Filipino innovation, creativity and it is the greatest expression of Christmas spirit.

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Simbang Gabi

When it comes to Christmas, no one celebrates it better than the Filipinos. The Philippines is known for celebrating the longest Christmas season in the world.

A very unique practice of Filipinos during the Christmas Season is the Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo. It is a tradition originated in the early Spanish colonial period as a practical compromise for Filipino farmers who began working before sunrise, to avoid working in the fields under the heat of the sun. Simbang gabi is a nine-day series of masses to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. The daily mass starts from December 16 to Christmas eve. Filipinos wake up before the crack down to attend the mass in hopes of having a granted wish once they complete the nine days.

Completing the Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo is in almost everyone’s bucket list. It is believed that a wish can be granted after the series is completed.

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