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December 14, 2015 – Vienna, Austria – Though Christmas Day is still two weeks away, the Christmas spirit filled the Philippine Filipino community in Austria as Filipino groups and organizations celebrate their respective Christmas parties, the Filipino-way.
Indeed, nowhere in the world is Christmas celebrated more festively, more colorfully or with more dedication than in the Philippines. More importantly, Christmas is a time for families to be together just as the very first Christmas gathered the most important family in the history of the Christian faith.
Christmas gatherings of “Pinoys” in Austria picture unity and the dedication to bring hope to the less fortunate brothers and sisters in the Philippines. A number of Christmas activities here are being held to acquire donations to charities in the Philippines.
Besides organizing and attending Christmas parties, Filipinos remember special traditions observed during the Christmas season, such as the “Simbang Gabi” (Night Mass), which is celebrated for nine days until Christmas eve.
Filipinos celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world. As soon as it is “Ber” ( as in SeptemBER”), festive Christmas carols begin to play on the radio, and Christmas decorations begin to appear. Christmas trees begin to appear a bit later, around the second or third week of November.
It is also during this time when Filipino families begin to hang up parols, or five-pointed star lanterns, as early as September to decorate their windows or doorways for the Christmas season. The lanterns represent the star of Bethlehem, and are made from bamboo or rattan frames covered with rice paper or cellophane. Before electricity was available
throughout the countryside, the parol candles lit the way for people as they traveled to church for the Misa de Gallo, or midnight mass.
The Christmas song play until Three Kings Day ( first Sunday of January) and the decorations stay even longer, sometimes up to February.
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