Posts Tagged ‘Christmas carols’

Christmas in the Philippines

March 24, 2020

jeepneyIs your Christmas celebration too short?  Then celebrate Christmas in the Philippines.  They have to longest Christmas celebration

The cultural diversity of Christmas celebrations in the Philippines is great also.  If one were to observe Christmas in the Philippines one would see Spanish, Chinese, Indian, British, and American Christmas customs interwoven with Philippine Christmas customs to make a truly unique Christmas celebration.

Beginning December 16 many attend a 4:00 A.M. mass.  Everyday for nine days people leave their homes to attend this 4:00 A.M. mass.  These masses are called Simbang Gabi, meaning Night Mass.  These masses lead up to the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass celebrating the birth of the Christ child.  These people do not have to worry about being late to mass.  They may be wakened and hurried on their way by firecrackers, bands playing Christmas carols, carolers, or the village priest going door-to-door waking everyone for mass.

While Christmas carols may be heard on radios and sung in houses and on the streets in the days prior to December 16 they really take off on December 16.  Groups of carolers, some raising money for civic organizations or church groups, are heard every day after December 16.  Popular Filipino carols as well as English songs like “Jingle Bells” and “White Christmas” are sung and played for the enjoyment of all.

The Filipino people lavishly decorate for Christmas.  Everything from homes to vehicles, churches to government buildings, stores to office buildings are decorated for Christmas.  City streets and public squares are also adorned with buntings, lights, flowers, and more.

The most popular decoration found in every house, church, and public place is the parol.  Made with bamboo sticks, brightly colored rice paper or cellophane, and usually sporting at least one tassel parols are usually star shaped with lights and, possibly, a nativity scene inside.  Every house, whether in wealthy parts of town or in the poorest villages, is decorated with one or more parols often with every window displaying a parol.  While some parols are purchased from stores or roadside stalls many families make their own.  Parol-making is so popular in the Philippines that many towns, villages, and cities hold contests with big prizes going to the best parol entered.

Christmas trees are found in many Filipino houses; but because of the country’s proximity to the equator, real pine trees are rare and very expensive.  Most people use artificial trees, use other trees or plants as Christmas trees, or make trees out of palm branches, triangular pieces of cardboard, or twigs bundled together in a cone shape spray painted gold, white, or green.  No matter what is used for the Christmas tree, the tree is brightly decorated with tiny star lanterns, candies, fruits, carved wood or bamboo, painted shells, little baskets, tinsel, rice paper ornaments, empty matchboxes wrapped as presents, and, for some, artificial snow.

Watch my website in the coming weeks for more about Christmas in the Philippines.

Maligayang Pasko!

Christmas Carols

January 25, 2019

Every year, usually around October and November though I have seen them all year round, we are inundated with memes telling us it is too early to listen to Christmas music.  Personally I listen to Christmas music whenever I feel like.

When I was growing up radio stations did not play Christmas 24/7 in the weeks leading up to Christmas like some do now.  The radio station I frequently listened to would play 1 Christmas song at the top of the hour the first week of December.  The second week of December they played 2 Christmas songs, one at the top of the hour the other at the half hour.  The third week of December Christmas songs were played every 15 minutes.  Then came my favorite time of the year.  Starting at 6:00 p.m. Christmas Eve the station began 30 hours of Christmas programming.  It was wonderful.

When I was a teenager I usually listened to Christmas music using cassette tapes I owned or copied from the radio for at least a month in June or July.  One year not too long ago using headphones so I would not bother my coworkers I listened to Christmas music every Friday throughout the year.  I reasoned since Friday is the happiest day of the week I would play the happiest music I could find.  I think there is no music happier than Christmas music.

Now I no longer limit my listening to Christmas music.  I have added Christmas episodes of old-time radio programs.

I love listening to Christmas music.  I still listen to it anytime of the year whenever I feel the need for a quick pick-me-up, a boost to my Christmas spirit.

My favorite Christmas songs are Twas the Night Before Christmas by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians and Silent Night by Mannheim Steamroller.  I also must hear songs by Andy Williams, the Ray Conniff Singers, and Mannheim Steamroller.

What are your favorite Christmas songs?  Let’s start our own list.  Perhaps we can use that list to make a great Christmas playlist.

Merry Christmas!

Joy To The World

June 27, 2016

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

In the days of Isaac Watts, the author of this hymn, there was in England extreme prejudice against newly-composed hymns.  Congregations were strictly devoted to singing the Psalms in worship.  So Watts reworked certain Psalms in freer and more spontaneous versions.  In 1719, he published Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, creating a new style of church music.

“Joy to the World” is based on Psalm 98, which tells of the Messiah’s coming and kingdom.  The reader may be able to see Watts’s first stanza in Psalm 98:2-3—and the arrival of a victorious King.  The second stanza is drawn from verses 4-8—through the praise of all creation.  The fourth stanza is seen in verse 9 –God’s righteous and loving reign.

Watts strayed a little from Psalm 98 when he wrote the third stanza to this hymn—“No more let sins and sorrows grow/Nor thorns infest the ground.”  This seems to be a direct command from the divine King Himself.  Then Watts returns to the psalm, imitating the last sentence in verse 3—“He comes to make His blessings flow/Far as the curse is found.”

Set to a tune by the greatest of all English composers, George Friedrich Handel, “Joy to the World” can powerfully fill the heart with the joy of Christ’s coming, especially when sung standing with a congregation on Christmas Eve!

– From the book The Carols We Love by Daniel Partner, Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc

Heavenly Mix


2 cups butter
2 cups white sugar
2 cups corn syrup
1 (17.5 ounce) package crispy corn and rice square cereal
1 (17.5 ounce) package crispy rice cereal squares
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut


  1. In a large bowl or disposable roasting pan, toss together the corn and rice cereal, rice cereal, almonds and coconut.
  2. Combine the butter, sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, continue to cook for 3 minutes. Pour over the cereals, using a large wooden spoon to stir the mixture until evenly coated. Spread out on a cookie sheet to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

How to have the Christmas you’ve always wanted – part 5

September 25, 2013

The Christmas Family Reunion

Picture this. The house is brightly decorated with greens and candles. There’s a fire in the fireplace. The kids are playing with their gifts in front of the tree ornamented with lights, tinsel, and all sorts of bright baubles. Christmas carols are playing in the background. Laughter is heard as the adults relax and get caught up with each other. Every room is perfumed by the wonderful food that was the Christmas feast. Sound like your Christmas family reunion? Probably not.

There is so much that has to be done before the gathering. The hostess has to clean and decorate the house, plan the menus, buy all the food, and coordinate schedules. The guests have to buy and gather gifts, make arrangements for pets, make financial and travel arrangements, pack, stop mail and other deliveries, and secure the house.

Then comes the gathering. The house is rarely big enough for everyone attending so inconveniences are sure to crop up. The hot water runs out before the showers are finished. There’s always a line for the bathroom. The children are noisy. Some people stay up too late, while others get up too early. And the kitchen seems to always need cleaning. How people react to each other during these inconveniences determine whether the celebrations goes well or not.

People expect the Christmas celebration to bring everyone closer together. They fail to realize, however, that no family reunion is perfect. Everyone brings baggage to the reunion, family squabbles, neighborhood spats, and even office politics. If this baggage isn’t checked at the door, tensions at the gathering may run high.

Non-traditional families have other issues. Singles, because of movies, television, cards, and their own ideal Christmas, see Christmas as a time for couples or families to be together. Single parents face Christmas with a missing partner; their children missing a father, or mother.

How can we survive the Christmas homecoming? Concentrate on the people and the celebration, and you’ll find your enjoyment of the celebration enhanced. You can also anticipate as many problems as possible and take steps to deal with them before they occur. The exercises below will help you prepare for this year’s Christmas family reunion.

Exercise 1: The Perfect-Family Syndrome
No family is perfect, but if you can accept your family as it really is, you’re going to have a more enjoyable celebration. This first exercise helps you take a look at your family members and explore your hidden expectations for them.

1. In the space below, write down the names of family members that you have complicated or mixed feelings about. Leave a blank space after each name.

2. After each name, write down something that troubles or disappoints you about that person. Here’s an example. Mary did this exercise and made the following comments about her family members:
Person What I don’t like
Dad Drinks too much
Mom Too uptight and busy
Louise Overly talkative
Mark Too withdrawn

3. If you have little reason to believe that people are going to change the characteristics that bother you, look again at each person’s name and tell yourself, “I accept the fact that this person will probably . . . ” filling in the way that person will most likely behave.

Mary did this part of the exercise and told herself that she would try to accept the fact that her father often drank too much at Christmas. She realized that her mother chose to be so busy and that, even though any number of people offered to help her, she was running the show. Her sister Louise had always talked too much and always would. And her brother Mark often backed away from the family, probably for the very reasons that she did. While she experienced some disappointment in realizing these things about her family, she felt clearheaded about what the visit would be like.

4. Now think of one thing that you especially like about each of the people on your list. Write those desirable qualities down by their names.

Exercise 2: Family Strengths

When people are able to focus on their family strengths and not dwell on their weaknesses throughout the holiday season, they find that Christmas is many times more enjoyable. Whether you have specific family problems or not, this exercise will make you more aware of your family’s strong points.

Read the following statements. When a statement is a great family strength, mark it with a star. If it is a lesser strength, mark it with a check. Leave it blank if it does not describe your family at all.

We have common spiritual beliefs or accept each other’s different beliefs.
We know how to have fun together.
For the most part, we communicate with each other well.
We openly express our love and affection.
We have similar life-styles and values or accept each other’s differences.
We do not have serious money problems.
We have common Christmas traditions or make a special effort to respect our differences.
We have compatible styles of child-rearing.
We don’t have serious alcohol problems.
(If you have few positive responses, make a special effort to fill in the “other” category.)

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the following:
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine
by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and
Company, Inc.

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