Saturday, November 21, 2009

Various Traditions in the Philippines

Other than its beautiful islands and friendly people, my country (the Philippines) also has a rich tradition. Some (if not most) of these traditions stem from our more than 300 years of Spanish rule. Others we obtained from our predominantly Catholic traditions. Still others came from our adoption of Western cultures, that we, of course, customized to fit our local culture.

To start with, we have our Halloween traditions. These traditions are based on our Catholic / Christian beliefs. It is during the Halloween (Nov. 1 and 2 actually) where we get to visit our dead loved ones in the cemetery, meet with our living relatives and friends and generally, have a great time remembering and reminiscing those times when our loved ones were still alive. Candles, flowers, food, drinks, shelters - all these are just some of the staples found during this time.

Then we have our Christmas celebrations. We, Filipinos, are said to have one of the longest Christmas celebrations in the world. I mean, as early as September, we are already hearing Christmas songs on TV and radio programs. By October, the Christmas decors are already up (yes, even before the Halloween). During this time, Filipinos are already starting to buy Christmas gifts in anticipation of the rising prices of these gifts. By November, almost everything is in full swing. When it comes to Christmas traditions, there's no beating our 9-day dawn mass (called Simbang Gabi) and our Christmas foods. The Christmas atmosphere is so festive that a lot of our countrymen who are working in other countries make it a point to go home during Christmas, braving the airport crowd and the traffic in our metropolis.

Lastly, let's not forget our New Year traditions. On the heels of our Christmas celebrations, our New Year is characterized by noise-making (through fireworks and firecrackers), lots of food (including our tradition of having 12 round fruits for good luck) and New Year beliefs (i.e., polka-dot dress, money in the pockets / wallets, open doors, windows and lights). This is truly a most exciting time for us and something that we really look forward to during the year.

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