Friday, December 12, 2014

Philippines: Christmas and the Nochebuena - #Christmas

When we were children in the Philippines, Christmas gift-giving wasn't emphasized. Celebrating and eating were, and the highlight of our Christmas festivities was the "Nochebuena" which was the gathering after Midnight Mass.  Those Midnight Masses were usually High Masses that went on forever, and I recall nodding off in church and feeling absolutely miserable. But by the time the Mass ended and we were in my aunt's place for Nochebuena, I bounced back to life. My aunts and uncles and a multitude of cousins were there, and there was feasting and playing until almost dawn.

My two old maid aunts used to have a "Sabwag" for the children, which meant they would throw coins and candy on the floor and we children would scramble for them. As I write this, I realize this must have been a variation of the Mexican Pinata tradition where a pinata is whacked open and children scramble for the candy and coins that fall out of it.  My aunts eliminated the thrill/danger of children with sticks hitting the pinata.

The Nochebuena meal was very elaborate, with lechon (roasted pig), several versions of pancit, ham cooked in pineapple juice, rellenos, embotidos, Dutch Gouda Cheese, English candies and gingersnaps, cakes, and so on. The lechon was a favorite because we children always wanted the pig's tail or ears, and whoever got those walked around triumphantly.

My nuclear family exchanged a few gifts on Christmas morning, but this was not a big deal. My parents would already have given our gifts to us whenever they acquired them during the holiday season; we didn't wait until Christmas morning.

Christmas caroling was also quite popular then (I think this tradition continues). Groups of people or children would visit homes, sing a few Christmas songs, and the families would give the carolers some money.

Christmas celebrations lasted until after January 6, Epiphany. Only then did we take down our Christmas decorations.

The top picture shows me at around 7 or 8 years old, with my sister and brother, and the other picture with my sister and father.

Read also
The Philippine Parol Christmas Lantern
The Bachelors and Femina Days of Cebu - Memorabilia photos
Old Photographs and Memories  
The Schools I Attended - Part 1, St. Theresa's College
The Schools I Attended - Part 2, UP & Maryknoll
The Schools I Attended - Part 3, UCLA 

Tags: Christmas, Philippines, Filipino, nochebuena, celebrations

This is all for now,

1 comment:

Uptourist said...

There is something beautiful about Noche Buena in the Philippines because it unites families and spread the love.