By Sarah Brown, CNN - Where would you find the most Christmas spirit in the world? It’s hard to say for certain, but if a global competition were to be held, the Philippines would have an excellent shot at winning.
The southeast Asian island nation has the world’s longest festive season — and pulls no punches in its celebratory zeal for the period, with lavish light displays, masses, and festivals held throughout the country from September until January.
One of the most populous nations in Asia, the Philippines is an overwhelmingly Christian nation. Approximately 90% of Filipinos are Christian and 80% of those are Catholic, an influence gleaned from the country’s period as a Spanish colony from the sixteenth century until the end of the nineteenth.
As a result, while many countries concentrate on the commercial side of Christmas, Filipinos attend several masses throughout the Christmas season and faith forms an intrinsic part of celebrations.
A traditionally Filipino event is Simbang Gabi, a series of masses held over nine nights culminating in Christmas Eve. It is believed that if you make a wish after completing the nine masses, it will come true.
As early as September, when the dark nights come, it is not unusual to see a series of spectacular Christmas displays popping up in malls, parks and open spaces across the country.
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