When it comes to looking for the best places to celebrate Christmas in Asia, the Philippines would top any list hands down.
This is not unexpected. The country is predominantly Christian and the people are deeply religious. In fact, Christmas is just one of the hundreds of religious events being celebrated in the country all throughout the year, although it is the biggest and the longest. Manila is a perfect example of a Philippine city where Christmas is at its most joyously manic.
Christmas in the Manila practically lasts half of the year. At the start of the “ber” months (September), you can already hear Christmas carols played on the radio and in department stores. Some establishments even hold “Christmas in July” celebrations. The season fizzles out only after the Feast of the Three Kings on January 6. In many areas in the country, Christmas lasts till the end of January.
What’s great about the Christmas in the Philippines is that everybody celebrates it: the poor and the rich, children and adults, and even non-Christians join their Christian brothers in sharing food, drinks and gifts.
Christmas in the Philippines is deeply rooted in the country’s history and tradition, which makes the season even more colorful. There is no house and business establishment in the country that don’t display the “parol”, the handcraft Christmas lantern. The country’s years of history of foreign domination are manifested in the use of mainly foreign concepts of Christmas, like the Christmas tree and fireworks display. The Filipinos have succeeded in making these foreign traditions as their own. And of course, who can forget the “Simbang Gabi” and the native delicacies that are offered to churchgoers all throughout the season?
Christmas in India is about eating, which is one big reason for you to go there during the season. Most of the country’s hotels serve especial Christmas buffets with roast meat, vegetables and deserts. One best place to celebrate Christmas in India is Goa, which has a huge Christian population. You will be amazed at how the place’s Portuguese-style churches are filled with people day and night. Christmas carols are sung everywhere while Christmas decors adorn public places, business establishments and houses. Christmas is one big festival in Goa.
One interesting place to celebrate Christmas is in Tokyo, Japan. A department store in Tokyo once displayed a crucified chocolate Santa Claus, showing the owner’s apparent confusion of how to celebrate Christmas. Many Japanese treat Christmas like a cross between the more famous Valentine’s Day and Easter celebrations with more drinking and merry-making than celebrating the birth of Christ. This makes Christmas even more exciting in Tokyo because it shows the deep influence of the celebration even in predominantly non-Christian countries like Japan.
These are just three of the many exciting places in Asia to spend one of the world’s most enduring and meaningful celebrations.