These holiday decorations will make your home feel Filipino
When Andy Williams sang the words “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” he probably meant Christmas in the Philippines.
Okay, maybe not specifically, but it does quite fit the bill because as we all know, Christmas is a big deal here. And for most Filipinos, that shows in pulling out all the stops when decorating the house and the table.
Drive around the Philippines come Christmastime and you’ll be treated to sparkling lights and all sorts of holiday-themed displays over houses and gardens. Streets and major thoroughfares are also lined with lanterns and lights—so much so that Christmas displays are also a major attraction in many of the metro’s malls and public spaces.
But of course, nothing beats having your own home bursting with Christmas spirit.
If you haven’t started yet last September, now’s the perfect time to deck your halls with the most iconic things you’ll see at a Filipino’s home come the holidays. Aside from the Christmas tree, of course.
A symbol of Christmas, colorful parols are one of the most common decorations you can spot nationwide. They typically come in the shape of a star—like that bright north star that shone on Christ’s birth.
Parols come in a variety of colors and materials, too. Traditionally, these were made of bamboo and paper, and illuminated within with candles or lamps. Modern parols however are now made of more hardy materials—metal frames and plastic or capiz shell exteriors. Of course, the parols are also now lit up with electric bulbs.
Being a religious country, it’s expected that another iconic symbol of the holiday represents the “reason for the season,” so to speak. The belen is an image of the nativity scene or the night of Jesus’ birth. This Filipino decoration contains the baby Jesus in a manger with his parents Mary and Joseph, angels announcing his birth, and often also includes the three kings who paid him homage, and the shepherds and animals also at the scene.
The word “belen” is actually Spanish, referring to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. It is also believed that the image of the belen was introduced to the country by the Spaniards.
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Anything Santa Claus
Good ol’ Saint Nick has also become an icon of Filipino Christmas, so you’re sure to find a lot of Santa-themed decor everywhere. From the tiniest ornaments to the largest life-sized figures, you’ll be sure to see Santa’s face everywhere. No wonder they say “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.”
To match the pine-y greenery of your Christmas tree and to spread the rest of the festive vibe to the corners of the house the tree’s branches can’t reach, Christmas garlands make for quintessential Filipino decoration.
After all, it has to be Christmas for the *whole* house.
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Because the holiday season stretches into the new year, many families may also keep a constant fresh stash of round fruits ready. This Filipino decoration may have been an adaptation of Chinese culture as well as round fruits are deemed auspicious.
In any case, they’re also just good to have at the ready—health is wealth, too, right?