Pope Paul VI to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Michael Ramsey

"(B)y entering into our house, you are entering your own house, we are happy to open our door and heart to you." - Pope Paul VI to Dr Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

In the Philippines, we celebrate Epiphany but Christmas never ends!

The Magi in Manila from http://www.seasite.niu.edu/Tagalog/Cynthia/festivals/three_kings.htm
Today is the traditional celebration of the Epiphany which commemorates the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. The Magi gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Prior to the reform of the Roman Calendar in 1970, the feast was celebrated on January 6, which is the 12th Day of Christmas and marked the end of the season. After the 1970 reform, Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday after New Year in places where Epiphany is not a Holy Day of Obligation. In the Philippines it fell on January 2 this year.

The Anglican churches and the Philippine Independent Church still celebrate it on January 6. It is expected that the Anglican Ordinariates will celebrate it too on January 6. In Spanish Philippines, this holiday was known more as the feast of the Three Kings. Before American practice was adopted, children received presents on this day. When I was very young, I received my presents from grandparents on January 6 (which also happened to be my grandmother's birthday). Children left their shoes by the window expecting the Magi to put in gold coins (not frankincense or myrrh mind you!). But when I was a kid, the old folks put Gold Goya brand chocolate coins.

In rural Philippines three men dressed as the Magi would ride into town on ponies and distribute trinkets and goodies to children. The custom survives in Ermita, Manila, where the Casino Espanol sponsors the Magi who distribute goodies to street children.

It was customary to put away Christmas decorations on this day and when I was small, it really meant the end of Christmas. But nowadays, Christmas has become too commercialized and Filipinos (since they really are children by heart even if they are old and grey) want to extend Christmas as long as possible. Catholic churches are not exempt. I know not of any Catholic parish church that really puts away their Christmas decorations at Epiphany. Many hold on to them until the Feast of the Santo Nino (the Sunday after Epiphany). This is really when the Filipino Christmas "ends" (It "began" on December 16).  The Feast of the Santo Nino is close to the Filipino people because Christianity in the Philippines really started when Magellan presented the Queen of Cebu with an image of the Holy Child in 1521. The image still is venerated in Cebu's Basilica. It is the oldest Christian icon in the Philippines

But of course, Filipinos are so fond of children and for that single reason alone, Christmas never ends! Well it almost never ends, since come Good Friday, all thoughts of merry making is put away at least for a day. And come July, you may hear Christmas carols sung ( and this really shocks the foreign visitor)!

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated at the sole discretion of "Anglican Use in the Philippines" Mere submission of the comment form does not guarantee comment will be posted. Comments will be moderated based on appropriate language, topic, subject matter and relevance. "Anglican Use in the Philippines" is not obligated to post comments that slander the Catholic and Anglican Churches.