The Top 10 Christmas Traditions In The Philippines

December 2, 2018

When it comes to Christmas celebrations, no one does it better than the Filipinos.  Charming, jubilant and resilient, Filipinos are also known to celebrate the longest Yuletide season in the world. As a matter of fact, you will already feel the spirit of Christmas in the Philippines as early as September. Once the ‘ber’ months hit their calendar, Filipinos start to adorn their houses, establishments, and streets with gigantic Xmas trees and dynamic colorful lights.

The Philippines, as a tropical country, isn’t endowed with a wintry setting that would echo a typical Christmas feel. Yet, amazingly, the festive season is very much alive and evident all over the country, thanks to these great and unique Christmas traditions.

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10. Christmas parties

In urban areas and cities like Cebu, offices, companies, organizations and even barkadas (group of friends) organize and celebrate Christmas parties. For the most part, these social gatherings are held a week prior to Christmas day, or right before universities and schools go on holiday.

One of the modern Christmas traditions in the Philippines, a Xmas party usually includes a series of joyous activities, such as parlor games, theatrical or musical performances, and Kris Kringle or also called as Monito-Monita in Filipino tongue. Of course, delicious Filipino dishes are also served during these parties.

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9. A show of Filipino generosity

Employees of private companies and government agencies alike get their bonuses with a ton of add-ons, such as souvenir items, red wines, rice, and a basket of goodies for the Noche Buena.

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8. Parol

The Parol or Christmas Lantern is an iconic Christmastide decoration present nearly in every household and business establishment in the country.

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7. Caroling

Caroling is truly one of the most lighthearted Christmas traditions in the Philippines.  A few weeks before Christmas day, kids as well as adults would travel to villages with unique handmade musical instruments (such as tambourines made out of aluminum bottle tops and drums made from used milk cans), expecting a handful of coins from the householders after singing their Christmas carols.

6. Christmas tree

For most Filipino homeowners, no festive holiday is complete without the Christmas tree.

5. Misa de Gallo

The Simbang Gabi, or also known as Misa de Gallo, is a solemn Xmas practice that shows how Filipinos value their faith. Mainly practiced by Aglipayans, Protestant and Catholic churches, the Simbang Gabi is essentially a novena of morn masses that would start from the 16th of December and end on Christmas Eve.

For Filipinos, attending these masses is a way to show their devotion to the Divine Being, as well as heighten the anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ.  There is also a folk belief suggesting that God will grant the wish of anyone who hears all nine dawn masses.

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4. Puto Bumbong and Bibingka

Food portrays a big role in every special occasion in the Philippines, and Christmas is no exception. After observing a Simba Gabi, Filipinos tickle their taste buds with delectable traditional delicacies, namely puto bumbong and bibingka (a nectarous rice cake).

3. Street partying

Street partying during Christmas Eve is by far one of the most entertaining and fun-filled Christmas traditions in the Philippines.

2. Season’s greetings

Neighbors as well as strangers sincerely greet each other ‘Merry Christmas” with a smile.

1. Noche Buena

Celebrated on Christmas Eve, the Noche Buena is a Yuletide feast in which family members gather and dine together on a traditional Xmas fare at around midnight. Most families and clans in the Philippines would also celebrate their yearly reunion during Noche Buena, as it usually the time when everyone in the family is present. Aside from dining together, Noche Buena is also the time families open their Christmas presents.

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Aldrich Infantado
Aldrich Infantado is a travel junkie and a writing aficionado who loves to share amazing travel tips to his fellow travelers.
  • Glenn says:

    A Christmas in the Philippines is on my bucket list. Having married a wonderful Filipina, my usual European X-mas traditions have been taken to a new level. Instead of giving up some of mine, we’ve simply added hers. Now our house is adorned months earlier and our table has so food there is no room for our plates. God bless the Filipinos for their warmth, faith and joyous spirit. They truly capture the meaning of Christmas.

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