Christmas Comes Early in the Philippines

BradleyLife in the Philippines11 Comments

Homemade Christmas decorations in the Philippines.

My wife once told me that Christmas comes early in the Philippines.  She didn’t mean that the date it’s celebrated is any different than any other place, but just that people get into the Christmas spirit earlier than usual.

Where I’m from, the shopping spirit hits a bit early, but that real Christmas spirit doesn’t seem to catch on until at least the day after Thanksgiving.  Obviously, there is no Thanksgiving in the Philippines and while Halloween (trick-or-treating) is celebrated in some posh villages, Christmas is something that most every Filipino gets behind quickly and early.  I think it’s probably because it’s associated with the birth of Christ, and the Philippines has the highest population of Catholics of any country in the world.  It may also have something to do with the poor conditions in the country.  I’m sure a lot of families are looking for an excuse to feel cheerful about something.

As early as last week, we’ve been hearing Christmas songs playing on the speaker systems in some of the malls.  I even saw Christmas decorations for sale already, including plastic trees.

My wife says the rule of thumb in the Philippines is that if the month ends in “-ber”, then people will start looking forward to Christmas and set up decorations, some of which will remain up until February, if not all year round.

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11 Comments on "Christmas Comes Early in the Philippines"

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Brad F.
Oh! I've had that puto bumbong too! It was good too. I agree with you about the apples. Apples make me think of apple pies, which are typical desserts around holidays in the US. So cinnamon and apples is a festive smell for me. You just reminded me of something I'll miss about the Philippines: the cheap mangoes. Heck, sometimes you don't even have to buy them if you happen on a tree with mangoes growing on it. From what I remember, they aren't that cheap here in the US. Maybe things have changed. I'll find out when I take… Read more »
Maja

I associate the smell of bibingka and puto bumbong on the side streets with Christmas. I don't if it's just me but the smell of apples remind me of Christmas because when I was really young apples (and Sunkist oranges) are very expensive and can be seen only during the holidays. Apples are cheap now and available all year round but it still reminds me of Chistmas, especially the shiny red Washington ones.

Maja

I associate the smell of bibingka and puto bumbong on the side streets with Christmas. I don't if it's just me but the smell of apples remind me of Christmas because when I was really young apples (and Sunkist oranges) are very expensive and can be seen only during the holidays. Apples are cheap now and available all year round but it still reminds me of Chistmas, especially the shiny red Washington ones.

Brad F.

Ya, I'm kinda sad I'm going to miss out. I've had bibingka before. It was pretty good. I've always associated the smell of pine needles with Christmas. What sort of Christmas 'smell' does the Philippines have?

Brad F.

Ya, I'm kinda sad I'm going to miss out. I've had bibingka before. It was pretty good. I've always associated the smell of pine needles with Christmas. What sort of Christmas 'smell' does the Philippines have?

Maja

Officially, I think Christmas starts on Dec 16, the first day of the simbang gabi, a nine day novena of dawn masses. It's also usually when Chistmas break starts. Simbang gabi is when it really feels, smells and looks like Christmas. The churches are decorated and the aroma of bibingka and puto bumbong is in the air. Too bad you won't get to experience this.

Maja

Officially, I think Christmas starts on Dec 16, the first day of the simbang gabi, a nine day novena of dawn masses. It's also usually when Chistmas break starts. Simbang gabi is when it really feels, smells and looks like Christmas. The churches are decorated and the aroma of bibingka and puto bumbong is in the air. Too bad you won't get to experience this.

Zarnyx
That is awful having to be away from her. I'm sorry to hear but I do hope that the process of applying for the visa goes smoothly and as quickly as possible. Best of luck on that. I live in NY and have for some time, so I'm pretty sure it would be a bit strange for me too if I were to visit Trinidad for Christmas in terms of the weather. Even though I might miss the memories of Trinidadian Christmas, those days are long gone and part of the tradition is gone and forever will be. My parents… Read more »
Brad F.
Ah, you're from Trinidad? Where do you live now? The Christmas season in Asia is awkward for me, because it just never gets cold. When I was a kid, I spent my first few Christmases in Germany, where the snow was deeper than I was tall. The last couple of years I've either been in desert areas of the US, the Middle East or Asia though. I wish I could tell you more about Christmas here in the Philippines this year. I might, but only second hand through my wife. I'm actually flying back to the US on Monday. I… Read more »
Brad F.
Ah, you're from Trinidad? Where do you live now? The Christmas season in Asia is awkward for me, because it just never gets cold. When I was a kid, I spent my first few Christmases in Germany, where the snow was deeper than I was tall. The last couple of years I've either been in desert areas of the US, the Middle East or Asia though. I wish I could tell you more about Christmas here in the Philippines this year. I might, but only second hand through my wife. I'm actually flying back to the US on Monday. I… Read more »
Zarnyx

I get into the spirit at August. Hahaha. Well….I begin to consider presents for friends and stuff like that, but I think it's just everything Autumn that is exciting. To me, it all happens so fast – apple picking, pumpkin picking, Halloween (love!), Thanksgiving then before you know it, December and Christmas.
And then January comes and I get depressed by Corporate America and the fact that its very sombre as we all “get back” to serious work.

I sometimes really miss Trinidadian Christmas.

I hope to hear more about Christmas in the Philippines in the coming months!

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