The holiday season: can’t get enough of it, or can’t wait for it all to be over already? Has your attitude toward the end-of-year holidays changed over the years?
I love the holiday season – all the trimmings – the Christmas market, malt wine, Christmas trees and decorations, cookies, mince pies, lemon tarts, lebkuchen, stollen, puto-bungbong, bibinka. We could be anywhere – in the Philippines, in Britain or in Germany, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is we’re all together (the three of us, at least).
In the Philippines, people have already started hearing the simbang gabi (dawn masses). Filipinos go to church at four o’clock in the morning and afterward have breakfast together. A traditional drink during this season is a warm ginger tea called salabat and a traditional treat is a flat but thick yellow rice cake called bibingka. They have their parols and other Christmas decorations. My granny used to marinate the ham or cure it for Christmas. We used to have keso de bola, and other kakanin, mostly made of rice flour. Every school, office , group, club will have their Christmas parties.
The Philippines is known for having the world’s longest Christmas season. The four months that end with the syllable –ber are considered Christmas months, which is why stores and households start playing carols on the first day of September! And the holiday season extends beyond December 31st. It doesn’t end until the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings (Tatlong Hari) which falls around January 6.
What every Filipino looks forward to is Noche Buena, the grand family dinner after the midnight mass. Christmas morning is the time for visiting relatives. Filipinos wear new if not their best clothes. Children do mano, which is kissing or bringing to their forehead the hand of an elderly person. This is when they receive their pamasko, certainly aguinaldo from godfathers and godmothers. Christmas lunch and Christmas dinner are with family.
Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat! (Merry Christmas everyone!)