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Monday, May 20, 2024

A season for tradition and cheer

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Many of the Christmas traditions practiced by Filipinos can be traced to the Spanish colonial regime.

According to Dr. Nestor de Castro of the University of the Philippines Department of Anthropology, Filipinos have found a way to own adopted traditions – from colorful lanterns to grand feasts of fruits, ham, and cheese platters.

“The tradition of Simbang Gabi, for example, was done by Filipinos from the start of the Spanish regime,” said De Castro.

Bernadine Obial, a history professor from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), clarified that this tradition began from farmers who had limited time to attend mass after work, opting instead to rise for mass early in the morning.

The concept of using colorful lights, or the parol, was also transplanted from the Spaniards – what was once used as a guide to light the pathway or roads which lead to the church eventually led to the five-pointed star Filipinos use.

As a symbol of love for each other, gifts are also exchanged during Christmas Day, which De Castro said had been adapted from the very Christian tradition of godparents showering the little ones with gifts.

“This custom eventually evolved to become the practice of the monito and monita, and the giving of aguinaldo which came in the forms of gifts. The present custom sees money as an option in modern times,” De Castro said.

“We have also adapted the tradition of the Chinese wherein money is placed in red envelopes,” Obial added.

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