Pasko: Christmas in the Philippines

Pasko: Christmas in the Philippines

Khaylynn Q. Lee, Staff Writer

The word “Pasko” means Christmas in Tagalog, the most common spoken dialect in the Philippines. Christmas in the Philippines is one of the biggest and longest celebrated holidays. From September to December, the festive country starts counting down the days till Christmas. Decorations, plans, gifts, and more are contributed at the start of the “ber” months where excitement and tradition build up. Tradition in the Philippines is very valuable to the citizens and those of descent. Religion, history, family, and decorations play a big part of the festive Filipino tradition. 

Religion is a big part of the long Christmas tradition. According to a statistic by Asia Society more than 86 percent of the Filipino population is Roman Catholic. A tradition of Catholic Filipinos is to attend “Simbang Gabi,” a nine day running mass starting in December to worship and pray. Due to Spanish colonization and influence on the Philippines, Catholicism is a major part of the country. The day is used to honor the Virgin Mary and workers during the Spanish colonization. Usually after attending mass, family and friends come together for a grand and traditional dinner. According to an article by Panlasang Pinoy, “Noche Buena or good night refers to the night of Christmas Eve. This is a very special night for Filipinos.” Some of the commonly presented food includes queso de bola, hams, pancit, lechon, and many more. Activities and games are also popular at Filipino family gatherings, karaoke and musical chairs being the most popular. It’s not a Filipino party if there is no karaoke or a big roasted lechon on the main table.

Some of the traditional and festive decorations Filipinos display during this time of the year are called “Parols,” star-shaped lanterns. The Parol is made up of bamboo sticks and Japanese paper which is illuminated by a candle or LED lights. This decoration not only is a sign for the start of the joyous season but it also has some religious history incorporated with it. Influenced by the Spanish and catholicism, the lanterns are a symbol for faith and victory of light over darkness. Some countries state that Christmas is a time for children to be excited, but in reality, Christmas is the season for everyone of all ages and Pasko is just one of the many pieces that prove it. 

Pasko is the perfect time to reach out and gather around with the ones you love. There is so much more to Christmas than just presents, and the Filipino tradition proves it. From the start of September all the way through till December, the grand celebration includes much religious practice, dinners, and family gatherings. The festive season is for all of different ethnic backgrounds and ages to enjoy.