How to Celebrate Christmas the Filipino Way

As a country dominated by Catholics, Filipinos diligently follow Christmas traditions that we inherited from our ancestors. So for those who don’t know, here’s how we celebrate the Yuletide season the Filipino way.

  1. Longest Christmas Season – thePhilippines is known to have the longest Christmas celebration. It officially starts in September where you can already hear carols playing and ends on the Sunday after the Epiphany or Feast of the Three Kings.
  1. Simbang Gabi – a series of nine masses starting December 16 until the Christmas Eve. Filipinos go to church at four o’clock in the morning. After every mass, most churchgoers eat puto bumbong or bibingka and drink coffee, hot chocolate or salabat before going home. Most locals believe that if you attended all nine masses, one of your wishes will come true.
  1. Noche Buena – is the open house Christmas Eve celebration with family, friends, and neighbors. Each member of the family cooks his or her best dishes and shares it with everyone. Most households prepare food such as lechon (pig or chicken), ham, quezo de bola, kakanin, and other sweets like fruit salad or cake. It’s our way of celebrating the birth of Jesus and thanksgiving for the fruitful year.
  1. Christmas Lantern or Parol – this five-sided, lighted star lantern represents the star that guided the Three Wise men to the place where Jesus was born. Filipinos usually hung this popular Christmas decor outside their house. It is a sign that Mary and Joseph will be welcome and will not need to stay or give birth to Jesus in a stable.
  1. Belen – is a tableau of the nativity scene that shows the infant Jesus in the manger surrounded by Joseph, Mary, the Three Kings with their gifts, some shepherds, and animals in the stable.
  1. Christmas Day – Family members wear their best clothes and visit their relatives or stroll in the mall and watch movies. Kids kiss the hands (mano) of their godparents and the latter will give gifts or money (aguinaldo or pamasko) in turn.

Do you still practice these Christmas traditions in your family? Share to us your most memorable experiences! You can write your comments below.

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