Friday, December 2, 2011

The world's longest Christmas

The Philippines has the world's longest Christmas celebration which officially starts on December 16 and ends in the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th of January of the succeeding year. A nine-day dawn mass called "Misa de Gallo" will be observed from December 16 to 24. Originally, during the Spanish-era Philippines, it was a night mass or locally called as the "Simbang Gabi". Church authorities later on changed the schedule making it at dawn instead as parishioners (many of whom traveled long distance of miles) during that time found it difficult to go home very late into the night.

On Christmas Eve, a midnight mass will be offered. After the mass, families and relatives gather together around the dining table, and when grace and prayers have been said and done, feast voluptuously on the delicious foods. This is what we called "Noche Buena". It defines the rich Filipino tradition and the true spirit of a Philippine Christmas: thanksgiving, family reunion, sharing, joy, celebration, hope and, most importantly, love.

Another midnight mass will be observed on the 31st of December, New Year's Eve. It would be much of the same as the Noche Buena although it's called the "Media Noche". There will be firecrackers making most of the noise everywhere and a fireworks display exploding into the night sky allowing spectators to get a first glimpse of a brand new year as it unfolds.

Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a day for the sharing of love, joy, hope, and goodwill to all mankind. Nobody knows for the exact date of Christ's birth, but even such can't prevent us from acknowledging and to actually celebrate it. The Philippines may have the longest Christmas celebration in the world, yet we can make it everyday of the year if we'd like to.

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