Sending merry Christmas wishes to you all. Here’s to a day of love and peace, with greetings from the Philippines!
Since I was young, Christmas had been my most favorite day of the year. I loved looking at decorated houses and well-lit Christmas trees. My heart leaps when I hear Christmas songs being played (in the Philippines, it’s as early as October). When I was a teenager I had my share of singing Christmas carols with friends from Youth For Christ. I remember excitedly practicing with them and having a blast singing with them at family friends’ homes.
I remember days before Christmas I would join my folks and my grandma and go to church to hear early morning mass, called ‘Simbang Gabi‘. It is a nine-day Catholic tradition, where church bells would ring as early 4 in the morning, to call on the churchgoers. I’d be clad in my hoodie and warm clothes (though weirdly these years I don’t get to feel as cold in December. I feel it more In January).
After the simbang gabi we would head to the stalls of bibingka and puto bumbong. Bibingka is a cake made of glutinous rice (or galapong), topped with salted egg and cheese. It is baked in clayware and usually molded using banana leaves. We eat this for breakfast, adding sugar, grated coconut and butter or margarine. Puto bumbong on the other hand is made of purple glutinous rice and is steamed inside bamboo tubes. It is served with muscovado or brown sugar, butter and grated coconut. I’d be happy with my bibingka, it’s so yummy.
Christmas Eve is when most families get together to feast on Noche Buena. Common staples on a noche buena table are the quezo de bola, ham, lengua, embotido, morcon, fruit salad, and fruit cake. Now that I have my own family our yearly noche buena tradition includes barbecue, bolognese, salad, and molo (shrimp dimsum) soup.
On or before Christmas day, adults would give presents to their godchildren. I remember as a kid I received presents from my ‘ninongs and ninangs’ until I was around 13 years old.
While these traditions are good, I have learned as I grew older that advent and Christmas is more than just shopping and preparing for noche buena and gift giving. I still look forward to the intimate family get togethers, and I give more meaningful (usually DIY) gifts to loved ones. But I guess what is more important to me now is preparing myself for Christ’s coming.
Lots of good memories from Christmas. It’s truly festive, and traditions like these are best spent with family and/or loved ones.
I hope your Christmas is filled with joy!