The Filipinos take pride in celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season or Pasko, derived from the Spanish word “pascua”. The four months that end with the syllable –ber are considered Christmas months, which is why department stores and households start playing carols on the first day of September! And the holiday season does not end until the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings which falls around January 6.
Formally though, Christmas begins on December 16 with the start of nine days of dawn masses called "Simbang Gabi" (night worship). During the entire season, Christmas parties are held everywhere - in schools, offices and social organizations one after the other. Christmas plays or "cantatas" are often presented in churches and schools. A week before Christmas, carolers -- mostly children – go from house to house singing Christmas songs.
Many of those living away from their families come home before Christmas to spend the occasion with their loved ones. On Christmas Eve, families gather to eat a midnight feast called "Noche Buena", exchange gifts, and have fun all night long into the next day. On Christmas Day, families and children visit their uncles, aunts, godmothers and godfathers.