Every 8 December is Immaculate Conception Day in the Philippines, a holiday that is commemorated in many other Roman Catholic-majority countries around the world.
The devout in the Philippines attend special masses on this day in honour of the Virgin Mary and the belief in her having been conceived without sin. The day is also supposed to be a day when Catholics avoid any “unnecessary work”.
The main event on Immaculate Conception in the Philippines is the procession of Marian images from all over the country around the old walled city in Manila. There are 90 or more such images, many of them very ornate and associated with claims of miraculous appearances and healings or the like. This event is often dubbed, “The Grand Marian Procession”.
The carriages that carry the images of Mary, called “carrozas”, are also very ornate and are filled with flowers and lit candles. And a marching band may accompany the images “Marian parade”.
The first of these Immaculate Conception processions took place in 1619, was designed to promote the catechism, and lasted for 15 days. The modern ones are shorter, but have more images and are focused on reverencing the Virgin Mary rather than the catechism as such.
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6:00 AM | Holy Mass (Archdiocesan Shrine & Parish of St Joseph the Patriarch)
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The Philippines celebrates New Year’s Day with a public holiday every 1 January, as does most of the rest of the world. However, the celebrations really begin on New Year’s Eve and reach a high point with the turning of the clock from 11:59pm on 31 December to midnight on 1 January. Somewhat unusually, New Year’s Eve is also an official holiday here.
Fireworks, good food and good company, New Year’s resolutions, and greeting cards are all a part of the celebration in the Philippines. Attending midnight mass on 31 December is a practice of devout Roman Catholics. Firecrackers and loud noises are traditionaloy thought by some to scare off evil spirits, and leaving doors and windows open is supposed to let the good luck come in.
Parents may tell their children to jump as high as they can at midnight to help them grow taller. Others don polka dot clothes to make the new year more prosperous. And some put 12 fruits on display to symbolise the 12 disciples.