Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Maligayang Pasko"
Location: Pacific Rim
Tree Type: Traditional

Decorations:

  • Ornaments made of Capiz shells, rattan and palm leaves
  • The star lantern (parol) is made out of strips of bamboo tied with wire and covered with cellophane or Japanese paper. This covering is pasted onto the frame with a paste made from starch and water. The star is formed from aluminum foil, trimmings are attached to the star. The star is placed inside the lantern. the bottom of the lantern is left open so a candle or gas lamp can be inserted for light. Sometimes the lantern is placed on top of the tree.
  • The star lantern (parol) is the basic symbol of the Christmas season. It is found in every part of the Philippines. The parol is the Filipino interpretation of the Mexican pinata. The star lantern comes in all sizes the most common being a small one hung over a window. It is also hung in churches and at midnight mass it is released to slide down the choir loft to the altar.

Traditions: For nine days before Christmas, special early morning masses are celebrated called Gift Masses (Misas de Aguinaldo). These masses are held at 4 am. The mass includes music played by a band. After the service ginger tea and violet rice (puto bumbong) is eaten by the congregation. The novena ends on Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) with midnight mass called the Mass of the Cock (Misas de Gallo). After midnight mass, a children's parade is held, the children wear chains of bright tropical flowers. A band leads the children's parade and the children sing.

Christmas day is celebrated with parades, music, dancing and nativity plays. After the parade a huge family dinner is served. December 28th is the Feast of the Holy Innocents and is celebrated in the Philippines as a day of fooling friends and family. It is similar to April Fools Day.

Historically, Christmas Mass was first celebrated in the Philippines by Father Odoric, a Franciscan sometime between 1280 and 1320 and on the province of Pangasinan on the island of Luzon. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi celebrated the first feast of the Nativity.