Christmas in the Philippines
By MM Del Rosario
"Maligayang Pasko Sa Inyong Lahat" means Merry Christmas to Everyone !!!
The celebration of Christmas in the Philippines begins on the 16th of December and ends on the first
Sunday of January which is the Feast of the Epiphany (The Three Kings). It is quite different from the
other countries of the world, it is the longest of the Philippine festivities stretching for over 3 weeks. This
makes the Filipino Christmas celebration one of the longest Christmas season in the world. A rich
tradition which dates back to the Spanish period.
Christmas or "Pasko" is the most awaited celebration and happiest event in the Philippines. This is also
the time of the year when family get together, especially when family members from overseas come
home with lots of gifts. ("pasalubong"), exchanging gifts and the family feast highligh the most loved
What makes the Filipino Christmas unique? Filipinos have a lot of Christmas tradition which makes us
different from the other. Here are some of them:
Parol - Filipino Christmas Lantern
As early as November, Filipinos houses offices, schools, shoppingmalls and even streets are
adorned with these star-shaped multicolored lanterns.
Filipino Christmas Tradition - Simbang Gabi
"Simbang Gabi" a Filipino Christmas tradition, it is is a series of nine (9) dawn masses,
the mass starts as early as 4:00 a.m. It begins on December 16 and ends on the midnight of the
24th of December.
Monito Monita - Exchange Gifts
Christmas is the season of gift giving. In keeping with the tradition of giving, Filipinos have their
own version of exchanging gifts or Kris Kringle, it is called Monito - Monita
Pasko Na Naman - means "Its Christmastime Again"
Christmas Caroling in the Philippines
Once the "Simbang Gabi" starts, children like to form groups and enjoy hopping from one house to
another every night singing Jingle Bells, Silent Night and traditional Filipino Christmas songs.
Christmas is not complete without Christmas tree. Since pine trees grows only in a few places in the
Philippines, not everybody can afford to have a fresh Christmas tree. Filipinos have created unique and
original Christmas tree using different kinds of local materials, from recycled materials to a more
exqusite form of art.
Giant, well lighted and decorated trees are a sight to behold in the city street, malls, parks and office
building facades. Some big companies put their Christmas display with a different theme every year,
and become a very popular attraction during the Christmas season.
Just like anywhere in the world Christmas tree is not complete without the gifts beneath and around the
tree with eager children waiting for their gifts to be open on Christmas morning.
In the Philippines the much-anticipated Noche Buena - a traditional Christmas Eve feast is eaten after
the midnight mass, usually Filipinos attend the Midnight Mass and then return home for a family feast
called Noche Nuena,
Some family who don't go to church for some reasons,dine together around 12 midnight on traditional
Noche Buena fare, but this varies from family to family.
Noche Buena is a very special occasion for Filipinos, they used their best china and silver ware and
cooked their best recipe. Food that are usually serve depends on the specialty of the family but there is
always something special serve. The most popular are morcon, embutido, relyenong bangus, lumpia,
pansit, and for those who can afford the "Lechon ( roasted pig)
There is always ham on the table but usually not eaten right away, it waits until morning when sliced
and fried for breakfast accompanied with Pan de Americano ( also known as sliced bread).
Suman sa ibos or sumang Pasko ( glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves or coconut leaves ) served
with Halayang Ube and leche flan (egg custard) are the most popular desert.
Noche Buena is a statement of the Filipino Family close ties, It is not only about food, it is a family
Christmas Day in The Philippines is primarily a family affair. For those who were not able to attend the
Midnight mass, there are masses celebrated during the day and usually in the late afternoon.
Most families with young children usually attend this mass. Children wear their new clothes and shoes
to go to mass and after the mass, they visit members of the extended family, notably the elders in order
to pay their respect.
This custom has been an age-old tradition in the Philippines called "Pagmamano" this is done by
touching one's forehead to the elder's hand saying "Mano Po". The elder then blesses the person who
paid respect. "Aguinaldo" can be in the form of a gift or money given after the Pagmamano, most
usually to younger children.
Christmas Lunch is is usually a reunion of family members. Well-to-do families tend to prepare grand
and glorious feasts Some families choose to cook simple meals, nevertheless still special. Christmas
day is a day for children to visit their uncles, aunts, godmothers and godfathers. Usually children are
presented with a gift, candy, money or toys. Kids love to count their Aguinaldos as they go to their
In every home that you visit, you will always be offered food to eat because every family have made
something especially for this day.
Christmas Eve gathering provides an opportunity for a reunion of immediate and distant family
members and good time for a drink of Filipinos' most loved "San Miguel" beer with friends and family.
At the end of the day, Filipino Christmas is about family closeness and everyone wishes good cheer
and glad tidings.
New Year celebration in the Philippines
New Year's eve celebration in the Philippines is quite different compared to other countries.
Filipinos literally start the year with a bang.
Feast of the Three Kings
Christmas officially ends on the Feast of the Three Kings (Tatlong Hari in Tagalog), also known as the
Feast of the Epiphany. The Feast of the Three Kings was traditionally commemorated on Jan. 6 but is
now celebrated on the first Sunday after the New Year.
Some children leave their shoes out, so that the Three Kings would leave behind gifts like candy or
After the Feast of the Three Kings that is when all the Christmas decorations are removed.
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