By Betsy von Atzigen in Switzerland, Luz Bergersen in Norway and Evelyn Alcarmen Mueschen in Germany Photo by Betsy von Atzigen, Zürich Filipinos in Cebu and around the world gather in big numbers to celebrate the Santo Niño festival mainly on the third Sunday of January, preceded by novena prayers and hymns. It is a long-cherished tradition of bright displays of pageantry and festivities since the 16th century and the most popular of Filipino celebrations. The festival commemorates the first ever visit of the Christ Child - the Santo Niño de Cebu and documented as the very first Christian relic that reached Philippine soil. It was a gift from explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Cebu’s Rajah Humabon and his chief consort Queen Juana on account of their baptism in 1521. To see the original statue, visit the side chapel of the Basilica del Santo Niño de Cebu. Rooted in the deep faith of the Filipino people, the Santo Niño is one of the most beloved, and recognizable cultural and religious icons. He is gloriously welcomed by Filipino parishes and communities with special Masses, dances, fiestas, and processions carrying the statue of the Infant Jesus. Photo by Betsy von Atzigen, Zürich Photo by Betsy von Atzigen, Zürich In Switzerland This year’s Santo Niño festival was held on Sunday, 22 January in Sulz-Rickenbach, Zürich. It was attended by more than 600 Filipino migrants and their families coming from Aargau, Berne, Geneva, Luzern, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Vaud, Zurich, and other cantons in Switzerland. In preparation for the festivity, participants placed at designated altar steps numerous statues of the Child King robed in royal regalia, adorned with jewellery, crowned, and holding a cross-bearing orb and a sceptre. Sto. Niño Mass concelebrants from left: Fr. Julipros Dolotallas SVD, Fr. Simon Prospero SVD from Mexico, Fr. Antonio Enerio SVD, main celebrant and Chaplain of the Philippine Catholic Mission Switzerland, Fr. Michael Sinugbuhan, and Fr. Matthias Helms SVD Mission Secretary, Steyler Missionare from Steinhausen, canton Zug. Photo by Betsy von Atzigen, Zürich Photo by Betsy von Atzigen, Zürich At the entrance procession to the altar, a group of brightly dressed women, accompanied by women and young girls carried the statue of the Santo Niño on a specially decorated carosa . An important segment of the celebration is the dancing of the ‘Sinulog’ - a Cebuano word which means ‘graceful dance.’ It comes in three traditional simple steps performed while holding the revered Santo Niño statue. This dance originated in Cebu and depicted a ‘sulog’ or current of a river. It is believed that one can find a statue of the Santo Niño in practically every Filipino home and is a mainstay of Philippine Catholic life. Viva Señor Santo Niño! Photos by Betsy von Atzigen, Zürich The event in Zürich was organised and coordinated by the Philippine Catholic Mission (PCM CH) Switzerland committee consisting of Rosemarie Perez, Overall Coordinator, Julius Requina, Zürich Coordinator, Cielo Salumbides, Zürich Secretary and Evangeline Vettiger, PCM CH Secretary. In Norway Photo by Imagination at Work, Oslo The Sacred Heart Filipino Chaplaincy – Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Oslo Chapter, SHFC/OLMC, headed by Chaplain Fr. Johan Dumandan, led the local Filipino community and their families in celebrating Sinulog – the Feast Day of our Señor Sto. Niño de Cebu. The Philippine Ambassador, H.E. Enrico Fos and Madame Myla Antoinette Fos, with Philippine Embassy officials, were also in full attendance for the successful celebrations, the culmination of 9 day novenas and masses. Photos by Imagination at Work, Oslo A Sinulog Mass in Cebuano was celebrated in the feast venue, the venerable Oslo Katedralskole, followed by dinner and a program of music and dances. Talented performers who contributed special dance numbers: The Likha Scandinavia Cultural Group, Pinay & Proud Crew, Romerike Diversity Dance Troupe with special guest Sanny Gipgano, Hamar Dance Troupe, Drammen Group, and The Electrifying duo sisters from LGBTIQ, Filipino – Norwegian Association. The beautiful voices of St. Laurentius Choir (Drammen), Mañago Brothers, Bobby & the Crew, Forever Young Group, Abi Magallanes Dado and LJ Amorsolo, shared their heavenly music. The celebration was a great success, thanks also to «Imagination at Works», for the technical support during the rehearsals and during the event, and most especially for capturing the beautiful moments. Thank you to Gerald Hora and his creative team, for the beautiful stage designs. Many people contributed with their professional skills, talents and support, for love to Señor Sto. Niño. OLMC Council Chairman Niel Christopher Baquiran offers the water and wine The OLMC Council, led by Chairman Niel Christopher Baquiran, Jun Solas, Rosita Rodriguez, Bheby Gallego Teigen, and volunteers did a wonderful team effort, to come up with this celebration, which will be remembered for a very long time. May Sto. Niño always be the cause of our unity and may we keep on imparting the values of humility, faithfulness and loyalty to God. In Germany Various Filipino communities and organisations across Germany turned out in big numbers in the month of January to join the Santo Niño novena prayers and the annual fiesta this year . The Santo Niño festivity was organised by the Filipino Mission in the Archdiocese of Cologne and Hermanas of four communities in Mönchengladbach, Cologne, Siegburg and Bergheim. The Holy Mass was concelebrated by Filipino priests with Fr. Rodel Liguid SVD as main celebrant at the Steyler Missionare in Sankt Augustin, Nordrhein-Westfalen. The liturgy was led by other Hermanas while the main choir consisted of the Joyful Worship Singers of Mönchengladbach community. The festive occasion continued in the Aula with dinner and programs of music and dances. Viva Pit Señor! May God be always glorified!