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, thanks to these great and unique Christmas traditions.
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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.
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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The Parol or Christmas Lantern is an iconic Christmastide decoration present nearly in every household and business establishment in the country. Visit San Fernando Pampanga, the Parol Capital of the Philippines.
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.
For most Filipino homeowners, no festive holiday is complete without the Christmas tree.
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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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).
Street partying during Christmas Eve is by far one of the most entertaining and fun-filled Christmas traditions in the Philippines.
Neighbors as well as strangers sincerely greet each other ‘Merry Christmas” with a smile.
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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