Holidays of the Philippines
The Philippines is a nation of 7,641 islands, which affects the nature of life and how holidays are celebrated here.
The festivities are wide and loud, and the secular and religious events are very much intertwined with each other. As a result, there is a mix of secular and religious holidays, Christian and Muslim.
New Year’s Day
There are three New Year’s celebrations in Philippi: the Gregorian calendar, the Eastern calendar, and the Muslim calendar. And the first two are official.
Inhabitants of the Philippines are the first on the planet to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Like Christmas, they respect this holiday and begin to prepare for it in advance in November.
There are no real Christmas trees here, the residents make do with artificial ones. They make them from paper and cardboard, papier-mache and decorate them in their own way. As a result, such a tree is not quite traditional, but it is made with great love.
During the holiday itself, children count to 12 times, then jump in one place 10 times – for good luck.
If you see a bunch of babies in colorful, bright and very colorful clothes in polka dots or any other circular ornament, it is for happiness and prosperity.
Catholics, believing that loud noise scares away evil spirits, are not stingy with huge amounts of firecrackers and in some quarters you can go deaf from the rumble and explosions on New Year’s Eve.
Until New Year’s Eve, the residents do not eat anything according to local tradition and it is considered good form to sit down at the table with the family with the first star. This is at about 6 p.m. After the festive dinner comes the entertainment, the nature of which depends heavily on wealth. The well-to-do have horse races with stakes, while the poorer ones go to the seashore to watch the holiday fireworks.
Shrimp, oysters and mussels are usually cooked in different ways on the table. Often the New Year is celebrated with frogs, chestnuts and coconut milk.
As the saying goes: You can spend it like you meet it).
It is celebrated around February (the date is floating). Without fireworks and firecrackers can not do. Residents go out until late in the evening to wake up in the morning and meet the beginning of a new day. And walk again! And the morning should also meet noisily: the banging of drums and the sound of kettledrums. It is considered to be the way to greet the coming of a new year.
In the streets there are colorful theatrical performances of dancers dressed as lions and dragons. They help to ward off evil spirits and guarantee with their zeal that the next year will surely bring good rains and crops! This is all accompanied by loud shouting and banging of drums.
Otherwise, celebrating Chinese New Year in the Philippines is not different from Europe. Except for the fact that the trees are used to hang gifts.
After that, you can safely proceed to the festive feast.
One of the most famous holidays that are associated with the Philippines. Has not received official status, and besides refers more to the local events. But that does not make it any less interesting! The main events take place in Bacolod City, in the province of Western Negros.
The holiday has an unusual history. About 30 years ago, the province was hit by a severe crop failure and the risk of starvation. In addition, a passenger ship sank, killing about 700 people. So the government decided to do something original: it founded the holiday. It was an unusual idea, but it worked. The holiday lasts for the first 20 days of October.
During those days, everyone leaves the house wearing smiling masks.
The festival opens on October 1, when colorfully decorated platforms start driving through the streets. Dancers perform something that strongly resembles Latin American dancing. The first day ends with fireworks!
Next comes the mask parade and the winners are awarded. Colors are used in bright colors.
October 6 is the official artistic day off . A very unusual day in the festival, the government only once a year as an exception allows everyone to show their art and paint literally everything around. The streets are transformed. Walls, paving stones and even the boat you like can become a canvas. Photographers from all over the world come to the Philippines these days.
On October 16, is arranged agricultural fair, farmers from around the world come to show the results of their work and receive awards. Everyone is welcome to taste the unusual food and watch the procession that ends the fair.
On October 18, there is a beauty contest to choose the most beautiful girl of the Philippines. Then there’s Electric Masks Day, when different parts of the country come together. Almost to the close: the Rose Parade. Young girls wearing colorful masks and outfits symbolizing this particular plant parade through the main square.
On October 21, the title of the best restaurant is awarded: you have to feed thousands of islanders and tourists at very low prices. The menu serves both traditional dishes and crowns from the chefs. You can try turkey and watermelon, fish, chicken and lime and more.
On Oct. 22, there is a grand closing celebration.
A local celebration that takes place over the 9 days before Christmas in San Fernando. Each neighborhood in the city creates its own giant lantern, which usually consists of many smaller ones.
Then they are driven through the streets of the city and meet in the main square where the winner is awarded and the most beautiful lantern is chosen.
The result is a colorful show that attracts locals and tourists alike.
A famous local Filipino festival, starts every year on the third Sunday of February in Cebu City. Dedicated to the Holy Child (Jesus). Festive processions take place around the city, led by parade-goers holding small dolls representing Jesus.
A distinctive feature of the Sinulog is the participation in the procession of a huge number of children. Kids in bright colorful costumes march through the streets to the central square. They sing prayers and festive hymns, thanking God for all the good things.
The name of the festival (Sinulog) comes from an ancient dance in which you have to take two steps forward, one step back.
The harvest festival, which is held on May 15. The inhabitants of Quezon province organize a fair and offer everyone to appreciate the best fruits. The province’s main city is transformed: residents decorate houses, arches and bridges with flowers and fruits. Baskets of flowers and fruit are displayed in the windows.
The holiday has a religious connotation, which has to do with the Catholic Saint Isidore, the patron saint of the peasantry. He is to be thanked for bountiful harvests.
Festivals and Holidays in the Philippines
The abundance of festivals, with which the Philippine ecclesiastical and secular calendar is filled to the brim, and the variety of occasions for festive rejoicing is surprising. Filipinos are extremely religious people (the labors of Spanish missionary monks did not go in vain). There is probably not a saint in the Catholic calendar who is not venerated in the Philippines. In between religious celebrations, the beginning and end of field work, festivals dedicated to the harvest, a certain product or a historical event are celebrated with no less enthusiasm.
New Year’s Day
Like other Catholics, Filipinos view New Year’s Eve as a postscript to Christmas. However, their enthusiasm is not diminished by the proximity of these dates: the arrival of January 1 is greeted with fireworks, firecrackers and all kinds of noise effects. It is believed that these measures deter evil spirits and prevent them from perverting the course of earthly affairs at the time of the renewal of the times.
Feast of the Three Kings
First Sunday in January
This church-wide feast draws the line under the Christmas season: children receive their last Christmas presents, and processions are held in some cities.
Feast of the Black Nazarene
Second Tuesday of January, Manila.
One of the most impressive Filipino fiestas takes place in the Chiapo district of Manila. A wooden statue of Christ, brought to the archipelago from Mexico in the 18th century and depicting a copper-skinned Savior, is taken out of St. John the Baptist Church. People immediately swirl around the ancient relic. Driven by their faith in its miraculous power, thousands of admirers are eager to touch it and take a piece of grace with them on a specially-prepared handkerchief or towel. The density of the crowd and the heat of passion are such that injuries and heart attacks are inevitable. In the evening, after a procession through the city, the statue returns to the church, where a Mass is served in front of an incredible crowd (sometimes more than a million participants, of course, not everyone who wants to get in).
Third weekend of January, Calibo
Celebrations in honor of the Holy Child (Santo Nino), are celebrated throughout the country with special enthusiasm. However, the most colorful of these celebrations is Ati-Atihan, It is not easy to describe this crazy fiesta, in which all the inhabitants of Calibo and the surrounding villages are involved, On the surface it looks like this: on Saturday morning, several dozen groups of 30 to 100 people compete to win the prize for the best costume. They parade through the main streets of Calibo, dressed in extravagantly bright robes of painted feathers, bark, brightly colored tinsel, and other handy materials, their faces and exposed body parts smeared thickly with soot. Each group carries a figurine of a baby Jesus dressed in a similarly unimaginative costume. And each group is accompanied by a rather large troop of drummers, beating the same tune. The organized procession goes on for several hours, after which the groups continue to hang around the city. The rhythm of the drums and the cries of joy are heard everywhere. The next day, an unprecedented number of people flock to Calibo to participate in a Mass in honor of the baby Jesus. The square outside the main cathedral is filled with festively decorated platforms with richly dressed figurines of Jesus on top; people who have come from all over the country for the Mass; the fatigue-free contestants of yesterday in costume, idle gawkers. After Mass, the human sea is in motion and spills chaotically through the streets of the city. Finding a working restaurant during the festivities is almost impossible, as business owners and staff alike all participate in the festivities.
The history of the festival goes back to the 13th century (it is believed that in 2011 the festival will be held for the 800th time!). Although the true history of its origins is not known, it is believed that the festival was born when settlers from Borneo struck a deal with the local Ati, a Negritos by birth, and became owners of land on the island of Kalibo, Naturally, after striking a deal, the parties celebrated the event. The new islanders smeared soot on their faces as if to say, “We are like you now. Later, in the middle of the nineteenth century, another legend was born about the baby Jesus. In those days, the island was quite often raided by Muslim pirates, and the locals had to work hard to preserve their lives and their homes. One early morning the villagers began to wake up to a knock on the door, Looking outside, they saw the baby Jesus waking the people up to warn them of the attack. The battle lasted all day and the islanders defended their faith and land once and for all, They returned home covered with soot from the guns. This version probably explains not so much the tradition of smearing the body with soot as the dedication to Jesus.
Third weekend of January, Cebu
Feasts similar to Ati-Atihan, both in form and substance, are celebrated in the second half of January and in the major cities of the Bisian region, especially Cebu City. In contrast to Ati-Atihan, the festival is more organized, with a bigger scope and attracts many more tourists (although the first parade was organized only in 1980). The costumes of the festival participants amaze by design and brightness, and the girls themselves – the beauty.
For a month, the mountain resort of Baguio in northern Luzon, beloved by Filipinos for its mild, cool climate, becomes the scene of the Panagbenga Flower Festival. Floral exhibitions and bazaars, intricately arranged flowerbeds, and costumes of street performers, which play on the images of various flowers, remind not only of the richness of flora, but also of the multiflorality of local culture.
The celebration of the end of the F. Marcoa era, Manila’s nonviolent uprising against his regime (1986) was partly like a fiesta with its prayers, free refreshments, spectacle, etc. The center of the festivities was usually the metropolitan intersection of Avenida Ortigas and Epifanio de los Santos Avenues, where crowds of unarmed citizens turned back the dictator’s marines. Today there is a shrine in honor of the Blessed Virgin (EDSA Shrine) because her miraculous intervention, the church assures us, ensured a bloodless outcome.
March-April, the week before Easter.
Throughout the country, the time before Easter is marked by Lent, the experiences and reflections characteristic of Holy Week. The intensity of the religious feeling is shown by the fact that on Good Friday in various parts of the Philippines dozens of volunteers are gathered each year to be crucified on the cross in order to experience first-hand the suffering of Jesus. The most popular of these plays is performed in Boak, Gasan, Santa Cruz, etc., on Marinduque Island, off the southern shores of Luzon. The plot is based on the legend of the one-eyed centurion Longinus, who pierced the crucified Jesus with his spear. According to legend, the blood from this wound irrigated Longinus’ sightless eye, after which he regained his sight, and he himself, believing in Christ, paid for it with his life. The performance is called Moriones, for its participants wear the “armor” of Roman legionnaires and wooden masks (moriones) with imitations of angry grimaces. Throughout Holy Week these subjects roam the streets looking for “Longinus” and singing songs, until finally they find him and execute him on the first day of Easter by “beheading”. It is also worth mentioning that every year on April 30 begins a mass pilgrimage to Antipolo, a town near the eastern edge of the metropolitan area, where one of the oldest and most revered images of the Virgin Mary in the country is kept.
Jeepney King Election
The Jeepney minibus is not only a popular means of public transportation but also a sign of the indomitable zest for life of the Filipino people. Painted in all the colors of the rainbow and adorned with biblical sayings and faces of the Virgin Mary, images of sultry beauties or clutching cockerels, it looks like a real “fiesta on wheels” and elevated to the heroes of a special holiday more than deservedly.
Flores de Mayo
Processions in honor of the Blessed Virgin are held all over the country. Her statues are adorned with fresh flowers that bloom wildly in May.
Also in May, rich in lavish fiestas, there is the procession of Santacruzan, commemorating the discovery of the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz) by the Roman Empress Helena and her son, Constantine the Great. The ritual is preceded by the secret election of the queen of the feast, a young beauty portraying Helen, and her suitor portraying Constantine. Under a canopy of woven May flowers, this well-dressed couple will lead a crowded escort (each member representing a character from a sacred tradition or some religious virtue) to the evening Mass. A general feast, children’s games, contests and gift-giving, etc., will follow. Around the same time in different parts of the country the cycle of agricultural work ends and the inhabitants of the provincial towns and villages celebrate St. Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of the peasants. The most cheerful and noisy fiestas of this type are the Pahiyas (Harvest Festivals). Toward the middle of the month, they are held in Gyeongbokgung Palace, Luqban, Candelaria, Tayabas, and Saryaya, among others. Meanwhile, not far away, in Bulilan City, Bulacan Province, the main theme of a similar festival is to honor the carabao buffalo, a pack animal and faithful helper to the plowman in the field. On the first day of the fiesta, washed clean and decorated with colorful ribbons, buffalos are led to the church square. Dozens of carabao come to the temple and kneel down to show their love for St. Isidore. The fiesta in Bulilan is also famous for other exotic attractions, such as carabao races.
Feast of St. John the Baptist
Fiestas in honor of this saint are celebrated in the third decade of the month throughout the country, but their mundane component varies from region to region and sometimes looks very colorful. For instance, on the main street of Cavite (in the province of the same name, adjacent to the southern borders of the metropolitan area), the Regada water festival is played out. The idea is that people of all ages and social status enthusiastically pour water on one another (alluding to the special role that water has played in the life of the person responsible for the festivities). In Balayan (Batangas province, southwestern Luzon), a fun event called Parada ng Lechon, a procession of roasted suckling piglets, is held to coincide with these days. This dish is a must for Christian Filipinos and no fiesta is complete without it. But only in Balayan is this dish itself the theme of the feast, and the “queen” of the fiesta is chosen again from among the “poor pigs” covered in a delicious crispy crust. Then the priest says Mass and blesses the piglets, dressed in T-shirts, wigs, black glasses, etc. for the occasion. Then it’s time for the procession (the participants are sprinkled with water, as in Kavita, and their precious burden), and then the festive feast.
To commemorate the discovery of the Holy Cross two centuries ago in the waters of the Bocaue River, boats, rafts and barges descend on the river with colorfully decorated pavilions (pagoda), one of which displays the Crucifix.
Sinulog de Tanjay
Fourth week of July, Tanjay, Negros Island
During this holiday, pictures of battles between the Spanish and the Moro Muslims are recreated, including battles of mounted warriors.
Mid-August, Calubian, Leyte Island
The festival of the coconut palm and its fruit.
Kadayawan sa Dabaw
Mid August, Davao, Mindanao
A celebration of the fertility of the land is one of the main motifs of the crowded celebrations with songs and dances in the capital of the Philippine South. Orchid blossoms, durian fruits that combine a pungent smell with a delicate flavor, and Mount Apo, the highest peak in the country, are chosen here as symbols of the power and fantasy of nature.
September, General Santos City
An event celebrating the richness of the deep sea and the most important local commercial fish. In addition to traditional Filipino entertainment, there are seafood samplings, cooking contests and a tuna congress.
Feast of Madonna Peñafrancia
September, Naga, Bicol Peninsula
A nine-day religious fiesta in praise of Madonna Peñafrancia. It culminates in a night procession on the Naga River, with this miraculous image at its center, the Madonna accompanied by thousands of pilgrims floating alongside on rafts or in boats and lighting many candles.
La Naval de Manila
Second Sunday in October, Kaesong City
If the fiestas associated with the cult of the Virgin Mary differ from other Filipino festivals in their particular opulence, this is perhaps the most opulent of them all (one of the oldest, anyway). On this day, the Blessed Virgin is celebrated as the intercessor of the Philippine capital and the patroness of sailors. The origins of the holiday – in the era of maritime rivalry between Spain and Holland, to be exact – in 1646, when two Spanish merchant ships survived the battle with the Dutch fleet off the coast of the Philippines five times in a row. Contemporaries viewed these victories as a miracle and associated them with the saving patronage of the Virgin Mary. The image of La Naval de Manila is still the object of great worship and is kept in the Saint Domingue Cathedral in Kaesong City (where it was moved during the EDSA Revolution to appeal to the religious feelings of the Filipinos and pacify the civil conflict).
Third weekend of October, Bacolod Island Negros
The city day carnival is accompanied by all sorts of fairs, sports games, contests for the best carnival mask, the best brass band, eating competitions, the election of a beauty queen and, of course, a “Rio de Janeiro-style” costume parade.
All Saints Day
This holiday is also known as the Day of the Dead (Araw ng Patay), On this day the cemeteries are a pilgrimage destination. Graves are cleaned up, flowers and lit candles appear on the tombstones. Outsiders and Filipinos themselves remark that cemetery gatherings of relatives are not “funeral-like,” but rather resemble family picnics.
A festival designed to pay homage to the Golden Era and the Virgin Mary. There are artifacts from that time on display in Fort Santiago, a parade of women dressed up in period costumes and statues of the Virgin Mary from all over the country are brought in for the climactic sunset procession from St. Augustine Church in Rizal Park. Some of them are said to work miracles.
Feast of San Clemente
Third decade of November, Angono, Luzon Island
The highlight of the holiday is a parade of huge painted papier-mache dolls (higantes, up to three or more meters), parodying the characters of Filipino daily life, but in a deeper sense, symbolizing the abundance of nature.
The entire second half of the year is colored by the anticipation of the most beloved of Filipino holidays. In restaurants, shopping malls, and other public places, Christmas carols and popular songs, both of overseas and local origin, are played with increasing frequency. After All Saints’ Day, preparations for Christmas become an urgent matter for many Filipinos.
With the holiday, which symbolizes human brotherhood, forgiveness, gratitude and peace, all relatives, countrymen, co-workers, supervisors and subordinates – in other words, a couple of hundred people – must be congratulated. We also have to take care of gifts and souvenirs for many of them, attendance at church services, decorating the Christmas “tree” (or rather, its moulage or a local pine tree that replaces it), as well as what to put on the table on Holy Night. And you can’t stay away from the typical Christmas rituals, amusements, and spectacles. Such as the Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando (Pampanga Province, Luzon Island, December 24). If the usual passwords of paper and bamboo are not large in size, some “giants” reach a cross-section of ten meters or more. Being a real engineering structures using metal structures, rheostats and hundreds of electric lights, they create a kaleidoscopic effect and dance of lights. Philippine craftsmen working in this field dream about entering the Guinness Book of World Records, and it seems they can do it. The Panunuluyan ritual is a sign that Christmas is near. In the late afternoon of December 24, amateur actors roam the streets of villages and towns, portraying Joseph and Mary on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They knock on the doors of houses, singing a song-prayer for shelter, but all the owners refuse them (again in song), and shortly before midnight they arrive at the nearest temple. In a short time, this drama is topped off in various parts of the country with tidings of the birth of Christ, festive masses, bell ringings, chants, family dinners, and wishes of “Maligayang Pasko!” – “Merry Christmas!”