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“Namamasko” – Asking for Love on Christmas Day



If Michael Jackson urged people to give love on Christmas day, a Filipino tradition encourages children to “ask for love on Christmas day”. This is called namamasko. This word is a shortcut of the phrase, “Pamasko ko po?” which translates to “May I please ask for a Christmas gift?” Therefore, namamasko means, “asking for a Christmas gift.” This is the story behind it…


In Filipino tradition, love is proven by giving a special token, like a special gift particularly to children on Christmas season.


Christmas time in the Philippines is really about buying special gifts to one’s children and godchildren. Grownups are expected to be like Santa Claus to most kids, being ready with their gifts so that come Christmas time, their kids and godchildren or inaanak won’t have to ask for them anymore; they’re simply given the gifts after they ask for the former’s blessings through a mano or the kissing of the elderly’s hand. Children visit their relatives and godparents as a gesture of fondly “asking” for gifts. Then, after a special snack or meal, the gifts are handed them. On some occasions, the children perform a special number, like singing or reciting a poem, to present as a gift to the godparent.




The act of namamasko goes on through childhood, adolescence, and sometimes even through young adulthood, until the inaanak gets employment. During this time, the tables are turned so that the godchildren now give gifts to their parents and godparents.


Out in the streets at Christmas, namamasko also happens when children knock on a neighbor’s door and sing Christmas carols. They normally ask for money or gifts. This practice starts on December 16 to the night of the 24th, from 6pm and onward. Other children who have a more organised singing group would send a letter of request ahead of time to the household whom they wish to visit. Their letter of request contains a specific time, date and number of participants who plan to go carolling on that night. If the house owner agrees to welcome the carollers, they usually prepare snacks and a big amount of money for the children. Usually the house owners prepare more gifts than expected in case there are other children who might suddenly join the group. Overall, this is not about a contest or being sharp with schedule details. The whole thing is basically about sharing and being happy through Christmas carols from children which adds to the holiday spirit.


This Christmas tradition has been going on since the Spaniards introduced the concept of Christmas in the country some time in the 16th century.



Author: Expatch Editorial Team 



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