Parols, Noche Buena & Maligayang Pasko!

Pasko

This is an old picture of me playing Mary in a Christmas pageant in the Philippines.  You see the hanging lanterns over my head? Those are called parols. They’re a beautiful part of the Filipino Christmas tradition.

As a child I was enthralled with Christmas.  Every country had their tradition.  As I look back on my favorite Christmas moments, though…so many of them were tied with traditions I enjoyed in the PI. Although I’d participated in Christmast pageants most of my life, it was this one that I look back on with the most fondness.  I think it was that I liked the outfit…and ego liked that I finally had a lead role…Haha!

Where I’ve struggled with that Christmas feeling in Florida…thinking maybe snow on Christmas morning would fix it…I’d think back to my time in the Philippines and realize it isn’t the weather.  It’s the people. I have an odd confession I’m going to make. Though I’ve celebrated Christmas my whole life…I hadn’t really heard about Santa until I was about 10. I learned about the baby Jesus and blessings and giving gifts of love during the holiday. Santa came when I moved to the states and went to public school.

I like that tradition, too, but I can’t help but think to so many of you who post stories about when your child realized there wasn’t a Santa or other things…and I’m kind of grateful that I never went through that kind of disillusionment. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying my mom’s way is right…and quite frankly, with all the commercialism of Santa everywhere…in malls, in school, etc…it’d be tough to go as long as I did without knowledge of the wonder and magic of Santa.

But back to the Philippines.  The magic of Christmas comes to the Philippines through a lot of Spanish based traditions. Most Spanish/Hispanic cultures are familiar with “Noche Buena”. The part of the Philippines I grew up in treated it almost like a neighborhood block party…gates and doors were thrown open and everyone was invited.  Food abounded and you just went from house to house eating. Seriously! It was a time for family and friends to celebrate. In fact, most of our church would also show up at our house, so it was always full. We kids would also wander to the neighbors houses…it was a wonderful time with awesome foods.

My first time going out and Christmas Carrolling was also in the Philippines. My mom belonged to a singing group through the church and they’d go house to house to sing…and the proceeds would go toward sponsoring their trips to tour around the country singing at other churches. We kids were included in that, too! In fact, we sang Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, complete with all the little childlike embellishments that go with the song. A few kids between the ages of 4-10…I’m sure it was adorable. Now, looking back I wonder how we didn’t question who Santa was when singing it…LOL! (Then again, we were too busy getting a kick out of yelling “like a light bulb”.)

People in the Philippines really just loved on each other and supported each other. Christmas was all about giving there…maybe that’s what I enjoyed so much. It was focused on friendships, sharing and giving. To this day my favorite thing to do is to try to find gifts that will touch the heart…not so much about the spending. I will always look back on my time there with warmth and love.  And I’ll remember the beauty of Parols and Christmas Trees and Holiday Pageants with a smile.

Have you ever spent Christmas in other countries? Do any of your holiday traditions stem from other cultures? What do you love about this time of year?

And now I leave you with my favorite Filipino Christmas Carol…I still remember learning to sing it!

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28 thoughts on “Parols, Noche Buena & Maligayang Pasko!

  1. Mae Clair says:

    I’ve never spent Christmas in another country but what I like best about this time of year is the SPIRIT that moves people to act differently…goodwill toward men. It really resonates as if with magic. It would be nice to capture that all year but it just isn’t doable. That’s what makes it so special at the holidays…God’s gift to us.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      It really does. There’s something particularly wonderful about seeing people taking time to be kind and loving to one another. More patient and forgiving. That truly is the best kind of God’s magic.

  2. journeyman1977 says:

    It’s great to see that the true spirit of Christmas is alive and well, Kitt 🙂 Dreaming of chicken adobo after reading this, thank you very much 🙂

  3. journeyman1977 says:

    Kitt!!! Misery loves company and all that but I’ve just been wrangled into this award thing. Soooo darn embarrassing 🙂 So I’m here spreading the love…And I’d like to award you with the beautiful blogger award.

    Beautiful Blogger Award Rules:

    The idea behind the Beautiful Blogger Award is to recognize some of the bloggers we follow for their hard work and inspiration.

    1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo and place it in your post.
    2. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
    3. Tell 7 things about yourself.
    4. Nominate 7 other bloggers for their own Beautiful Blogger Award, and comment on their blogs to let them know.

  4. Jane Sadek says:

    I hate that we’ve become such an either/or society. Santa’s great and so are Hanukkah candles. Diversity should allow plurality, not insist that we all jump into the melting pot. If political correctness wins the holiday battle, then I think we’ll all be just a little bit poorer. For me, Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, even though I completely understand that he wasn’t born on December 25th. Others celebrate Ramadan or Kwanzaa in the same time period and bully for them. One problem is the marketing gurus. All they really want is to get us in the stores, but they also want to get us all on the same page so they can streamline their marketing themes. Then the liberal media jumps in and tries to make our celebrations some sort of moral choice.Just leave us the heck alone and let us all do our own thing. (And thank you for the opportunity to get that rant out of my system.)

  5. viveka says:

    Ready this … I think we have lost the whole meaning with Christmas – it seems like we are more about the gifts then the togetherness, giving and sharing.
    In Sweden, we dress our Christmas on 23rd and in the evening all gifts are being wrapped.
    In the old days every gift had a short rim .. that should be about the gift and we had to guess what the gift was. On 24th Santa knocks on the door .. and hand out all gift personally. A very nice tradition, but small kids are often afraid of Santa.
    Thanks for a great post.

  6. wordsurfer says:

    That sounds wonderful and if I had children, that’s how I’d want them to learn about Christmas.
    I spent one Christmas with friends in Australia, right on the beach in the very south, with huge cold waves coming in directly from Antarctica and so much food and so much alcohol, with everybody being quite drunk (including the grandmother, who was in her nineties) and we had so much fun, me and her, singing German Christmas carrols! (She was Croatian, and had some German roots – she couldn’t quite remember the meaning of some of the words, but she could still sing them!) We tried to teach them to her grandsons and the Japanese au-pair, which was hilarious. Fond memories…

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      LOL! Just the image of the carrolling cracks me up. Reminds me of when my cousin’s new in-laws came to Christmas. They’re from the south of France. They got so excited that I knew a Christmas carol in French. They started singing along, so excited!

  7. queenlorene says:

    Your Phillipino experience is what I wiish we could have here. As a mom I refused to lie to my kids,so I told them that Santa was a tradition to honor a legend of a man who was kind to children and made them gifts but he was no longer alive. They did not miss anything from the experience. Lying to children just sets up a precident for lack of trust. I dont love the holidays anymore, the commercialism just wears me down.

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I honestly never felt like I missed anything. My first picture with Santa happened in high school, LOL! As for the commercialism…I get it. I had to find a way to get back to celebrating the things I loved about the season. I still love carrolling & enjoying friends and family…and finding gifts from the heart, not necessarily from the wallet. 🙂

  8. artisticmilestone says:

    When I was very young I once spent my Christmas with my twin sister in Singapore, I was perhaps too young to even care about traditions, I just remember going shopping. We felt sad not spending the Christmas time with parents and cousins back at home (Philippines ) . This Christmas I’ll make sure I’m with my family, not pressured to spend so much money on presents, and go to church. I’m glad you have such fond memory of Christmas in the Philippines. 🙂

    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Good! I think you’ll really enjoy it. And Filipino Christmases are fun! Hey, question… Is it new year when you used to Mano the old people and get money? Can’t remember, but it used to be fun getting change just for being respectful. 😀

      • artisticmilestone says:

        That’s right, but some filipino families don’t follow that tradition. I’m Chinese living in the Philippines so we follow the Chinese tradition wherein we get money from grandparents during Chinese New Year which is on Jan 23, 2013 I think (date changes if you know what I mean ).

        • Kitt Crescendo says:

          I was trying to remember because it has been forever since I was there. I learned of that tradition when our nanny took us to the barrio one year to visit her family. I think it’s cool that you follow the Chinese traditions. My mom is actually Chinese Filipina from her mom’s side and Spanish Filipina from her dad. 🙂 I guess with my white dad that just makes me all mixed up! 😉

          • Kitt Crescendo says:

            We were. She was like another Auntie to us. And her sister was our seamstress. I miss Auntie Nene. And yes, being of the Heinz 57 variety is very good for being able to pick and choose traditions & easy for creating your own.

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