One of the most popular Christmas traditions in the Philippines is “Carolling”. Groups of singers – from young kids with homemade instruments to professional musicians who go from house to house singing Christmas carols to spread the holiday spirit.
This usually begins at the start of the “Simbang Gabi” or “Misa de Gallo” on the 16th of December.
They often sing traditional songs such as “Sa May Bahay ang Aming Bati” (“To the Householder We Greet”), “Pasko na Naman” (“It’s Christmas Again”), “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” (“Christmas is Here”), “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” & the cross-cultural Christmas anthem “Jingle Bells.”
The younger carollers are more creative since they use their homemade instruments, such as tambourines made from bottle tops and tin cans converted to drums. The singing would go on and on until you hand them a small change to which they will then sing “Thank you, thank you, ang babait ninyo, thank you!” (Thank you, thank you, you are very kind, thank you!”)
For the older groups, this is usually done as a fundraising activity, but unlike the children doing carolling, these are more organized visits. The carolling groups would send letters in advance to inform the homeowners of the visit. The homeowners would then prepare a simple meal to welcome the carollers.
Carolling adds a cheerful spirit to the yuletide season and is a great reminder for Filipinos that Christmas is all about fun, camaraderie, giving and sharing.
Most of these mobile carollers have spent time practicing their songs in advance. Whatever the goal is, Christmas Carolling is a wonderful showcase of the Filipino Christmas spirit.