Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas in the Philippines

Maligayang Pasko!  

That means "Merry Christmas" in Tagalog.  (Tuh-gaw-low)

I heard from another family at Relief Society a couple weeks ago, that they always do "Christmas around the world" with their families every year.  I thought it sounded fun, so I picked a country in the middle of nowhere that we really didn't know anything about.  I chose the Philippines.  

I got online and looked around for hours trying to learn about their Christmas customs, traditions and recipes for their foods.  I have a Filipino neighbor that has shared their lumpia with us on a few occasions and knew that I must have those.  I went and knocked on their door and told them what I was doing.  They giggled at the thought of me making or rather, all that hard work and time, of making eggrolls so they pointed me toward a Filipino market where I could get some yummy ones ready to fry for a good price.  I told them of another neighbor I had had once upon a time who had shared her noodles with us before.  She sent me home with a cookbook and I was content and ready to put on a Filipino feast.  

I headed to the Filipino market and had a lot of fun in there.  I stood out just a little.  haha  I walked up and down the tiny aisles looking for my list of foods I had compiled.  I then went on to another Asian market and got the rest of what I needed.  

Friday I spent the entire day making a huge platter of Pancit, 96 Puto, and 76 Ube Empenas.  The next day my dad helped me cook around 150 lumpia.  

Everything was really yummy and I was grateful for that after having spent so much time on everything.

I shared with my family the things that I had learned about the Philippines and their people.  They are one of the only Christian countries in Asia.  They love the nativity and display it proudly.  They have streamers and lights decorating both the inside and outside of their homes.  Rather than the Christmas tree that we have, they have a Parol, which is a star lantern that symbolizes the guiding star of the Christ child.  The children go around Christmas caroling and gather coins for doing so.  The family is an important part of their culture.  They love to get together especially on Christmas Eve where they'll go the entire night without sleeping.  They go to mass and then have a feast of 15-20 things at midnight where they'll go from one house to another.  They show respect to the matriarch of each family by putting her hand on their forehead where she blesses them or gives them gifts.  

The kids had so much fun Christmas caroling to all of their aunts and uncles while gathering coins.  It got kind of crazy but it was really fun.  We made parol lanterns and the kids enjoyedmaking them.

I was exhausted after the party because of all the time I had spent putting it all together.  It's kind of hard doing a party when it's out of town.  But, I was so grateful.  I can honestly say that I love the Filipino people after learning more about them.  I have gained a greater appreciation for them.  

Just in the last couple of weeks while planning this, I've been able to recognize Filipino homes while driving around.  I see their nativity displays with their streams of lights and their beloved Parol, star lanterns.  Makes me so happy.  

Can't wait to see where we go for Christmas next year.  

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