Christmas traffic jams. Christmas shopping and sales. Christmas parties. Nowadays, these are the things that punctuate this merry season. With that said, there still exists enduring and truly Pinoy elements that color our Christmas culture.
A prominent symbol of a Pinoy Christmas is the parol. The parol, whose name is taken from the Spanish word farol meaning “lantern”, is a star-shaped lantern hung by Filipinos on the outside of their homes during the Christmas season.
It’s common for school children to be given parol-making as a project before they go on their Christmas breaks. After receiving a grade from their teacher, the parol is taken home and hung in time for Pasko. And thus, every Pinoy acquires know-how—and perhaps a fondness—for the most recognizable and simplest form of the beloved parol.
Though pines, spruces, and firs are difficult to come by in tropical Philippines, the Christmas tree is nonetheless a Filipino Christmas staple. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a home already decked with Christmas decorations without one. Yes, it will be a plastic tree but it’s the joy and spirit that we’re after.
Thin, thick, tall, or short, it doesn’t matter. As long as you have a Christmas tree standing proudly in your home, the most wonderful time of the year has arrived in your household.
In anticipation of Christmas, devout Filipino Catholics attend Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo for nine consecutive days. These masses, held from December 16 to 24, are held at dawn and start as early as 4 a.m.
As one can imagine, being able to go to all nine masses is no walk in the park. And so, a small consolation for many is being able to indulge in a warm bibingka being sold in front of churches afterward. It’s hard to say no to this soft, often sweet and savory, and utterly Filipino Christmas rice cake.
Where there’s bibingka, there’s bound to be puto bumbong nearby. Together, they make up a classic post-Simbang Gabi pairing. “Less of a festivity and more of a functionality, our favorite bibingka and puto bumbong were rooted in the need for a heavy breakfast farmers could easily consume after the Simbang Gabi,” local culinary icon Glenda Barretto told Nolisoli.ph.
Some may say that puto bumbong is the lesser of the two, but those who prefer a sweeter, stickier breakfast would argue otherwise. Puto bumbong is traditionally made by steaming pounded purple rice in a bamboo tube. The result is a delectable sticky treat that’s then coated in butter and muscovado sugar.
The Christmas commotion can make us forget what all the merrymaking is about in the first place—the birth of Jesus Christ. Depicting the humble and holy nativity scene is the belen, placed in the Pinoy home as part of Christmas decorations.
The infant Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph are in every belen. Additional characters can include the Three Kings, farm animals, and angels. They can be made of fine materials and be very detailed or just as treasured when simple and minimalist.
Get These Colors as Paint
All the colors featured in this blog post can be mixed at Boysen Mix and Match stations. Capable staff can have it machine-mixed and ready for you in minutes! Find a list of locations of stations here.
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