"No one does holidays like the Philippines does holidays!"
Due to both it's Spanish Roman Catholic heritage and past United States influence on the nation, the Philippines holidays reflect an abundance of familiar cultural celebrations to that of the West. The main difference lies not in the names of the holidays, but the way in which locals celebrate. While the it's "big brother" the United States continues to allow politics to change the very definitions of it's holidays; the Philippines on the contrary continues embrace it's Catholic traditions regardless of differences with it's south. Perhaps the greatest example of the Philippines dedication to it's religious heritage would be the countries "outright" observation of "Holy Week."
Holy Week in the Philippines begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter. In observation of Holy Week; most operations such as schools, malls, supermarkets, and just about everything are closed from Maundy Thursday to Holy Saturday. Contrary to the West, business resumes as usual on Easter Sunday. Foreigners will be shocked at just how quite the entire country gets during this week while families spend time at home enjoying each others company and praying, it's a beautiful thing to experience.
Holidays are not only important religious traditions to Filipinos, but they are also greatly anticipated times of celebration. They say "it's more fun in the Philippines," and nothing confirms that statement more then attending one of these holiday get-togethers!
Popular holidays in the Philippines!
Perhaps the most festive time of the year in the Philippines, locals prepare delicacies such as "lechon baboy," "pancit," and sweet sticky rices. Parents scramble to gather 12 round fruits to provide good luck for the coming year, while the children eagerly wait for midnight to come where they will jump as high as they can in hopes of becoming taller. It's also the noisiest time of the year, Filipinos sure do not hold back when it comes to fireworks!
The vast majority of Filipino's are raised either Christian or Catholic, with Roman Catholicism becoming the traditional religion of the Philippines passed down by the Spaniards. Spanish inspired traditions are woven deeply into celebrations in Philippine culture. Holy week is certainly no exception to this, as it's a very important time of year. The holy reenactments that take place during this time is a true testament of Filipino dedication to religion.
Christmas in the Philippines can be experienced from many different points of view. While some families have a very Westernized celebration, others have never seen a Santa Clause before in their lives. Either way, it's often remains the most anticipated time of the year for children. In-fact, there is more Christmas spirit on these islands then anywhere else in the world! The event kicks off with a 9-day series of masses called Simbang Gabi that ends on Christmas Eve.
The Philippines celebrates it's 1898 independence from Spain on June 12th. Filipino's are the proudest people you will ever meet, and this pride extends from family to country. Just as the "People Power Anniversary," Independence day is also a very important day in the hearts of Filipinos, it represents the accomplishment of obtaining their rights and freedoms. While the West is known for it's 4th of July fireworks, in the Philippines you will catch a parade or two instead.
All Saints Day & All Souls Day
Every Novermber 1st-2nd Catholic Filipinos gather at the graves of deceased relatives, praying, and lighting candles in their memory, assisting their journey into heaven. Subsequently this time of the year ends of being a time to travel and reunite with long lost relatives. While the 1st is a government observed holiday, All Souls Day on the 2nd is normally a continuation of the events for the few who have it off from work.
Ramadan is an intense month of fasting and prayer celebrated by those Filipino's of the Muslim faith. Although Ramadan its not an nationally recognized holiday in the Philippines, Eid'l Fitr that marks the feast at Ramadan's end, has been recognized by the Government since 2002 in an effort to foster peace between the countries two major religions. Non-Muslims may choose to spend the day with friends and family as most local shopping malls remain open.