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4 Months of Christmas Celebrations in the Philippines

Around 111 million Filipinos take pride in celebrating the country’s longest holiday season.

People in the Philippines love to celebrate Christmas for as long as they can. As the -ber months draw near, you will hear yuletide songs play in the background and see the streets filled with holiday lights and ornaments.

A house covered with Christmas trimmings and lights. People in the Philippines start putting up Christmas decorations as early as September.

In a country with more than 86% of the population being devout Christians, the Philippines is known for its meaningful festivities that don’t only bring family and friends together but also celebrate the spirit of Christmas in more ways than one.

While the rest of the world looks forward to Christmas Day, Filipinos celebrate the season as early as September. This year, commemorate the birth of Christ with one of the most hospitable and optimistic people you will ever know.

Welcome to the Philippines!

Filipinos exude positivity. Despite unfortunate circumstances that come their way, they always find a reason to smile. They do not back down easily whenever life gets tough.

Many of you would think that Filipinos are only being as Catholic as they can be, thus the early celebrations. However, this isn’t the only reason for that. With over 42,000 known festivals in the country, it’s undebatable that Filipinos love celebrations. And as the year comes to a close, Christmas is what many look forward to the most.

But what makes Christmas in the Philippines unique?

Parol (Christmas Lantern)

Parol, or Christmas Lanterns, are a staple in the Filipino holidays. It is usually star-shaped and made from wood, metal, plastic, and even recycled objects. It comes in bright and vibrant colors, with lights that make the streets and houses bright and festive.

The city of San Fernando, Pampanga, which is dubbed the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines,” hosts the annual Giant Lantern Festival, an event that is flocked both by locals and tourists.

Filipinos’ Unwavering Faith in Christ

Most Filipinos are devout Catholics. Any religious occasion is highly revered and anticipated, and their steadfast faith is, in fact, one of the things you’ll learn about them, especially when you’re dating Filipinas.

During the yuletide season, midnight masses, or what is known by locals as Simbang Gabi, take place for nine days and last until the 24th of December. According to their beliefs, your holiday wish will come true if you complete all nine days.

An image of Christmas lanterns. Filipinos traditionally celebrate the yuletide season with their family and immediate relatives.

On the other hand, the nativity scene is one of the most well-known symbols of the Philippine Christmas. You can see it almost everywhere, especially in homes, hotels, offices, and public infrastructures. Nativity scenes adorned the streets are often life-size and a sight to behold.

Bibingka, Puto Bumbong, and Sikwate

These are the “big three” of the traditional Filipino Christmas delicacies.

During the holiday season, vendors crowd churches, malls, parks, and other places of leisure with these appetizing snacks. They are popular and favored by the masses in the month of December.

Family Reunions and Gatherings

One of the most significant Christmas traditions in the Philippines is reuniting with families. Many believe that the holiday season is not only a time for giving but rather a time for familial love.

In 2019, there were at least 2.16 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). With most of them living far away from their families, the long holiday celebration is the anticipation for them to come home once more.

Family members, no matter how far away, reunite for the special occasion. Often, they express solidarity by wearing identical shirts on the night of the 24th.

Holiday Carols

You know it’s Christmas time in the Philippines when the songs of Jose Mari Chan play on the radio. Filipinos, being humorous people, often share a widely famous pun about it, saying that Chan’s songs playing on the radio is the sign for the awaited Christmas bonus and 13th-month pay.

It’s a practice passed on from one generation to another. At the same time, you’ll find children singing carols for different houses after another, in exchange for coins and other holiday treats.

Filipino-Style Noche Buena

It’s no secret that Filipinos have a great appetite, and their fondness for buffets, fiestas, and other food-sharing occasions is unmatched. In fact, a recent survey by YouGov, a global market research firm, ratified this.

The nativity scene. Gift-giving is one of the most common traditions Filipinos still practice today.

To get a feel of what it’s like to dine with them on the night of the 24th, here are some of the star dishes of the Filipino Noche Buena:

  1. Hamon (Ham)

The traditional pear-shaped ham never goes out of style. Many people serve this on their table at Christmas, and for good reasons. For better taste and presentation, the sauce is drizzled over it.

  1. Lechon (Roasted Pig)

For Filipinos, all it takes is the lechon for a celebration to be grandiose. Because it weighs about 20 kilos, it’s an ideal dish to be shared by the family.

  1. Keso de Bola (Cheese)

The keso de bola completes the Nochebuena feast. Its round shape and red hue are believed to be an omen for good luck.

  1. Filipino-style Spaghetti

No child can resist the sweet smell of cheesy spaghetti during Nochebuena. Topped with slices of hotdog and grated cheese, it’s a Filipino favorite.

  1. Lumpia (Spring Rolls)

It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas or not because Filipinos always crave the epochal lumpia shanghai. Even on birthdays, fiestas, and wedding receptions, you’ll know it’s a Filipino feast when there’s lumpia.

  1. Leche flan (Creme Caramel)

Made with eggs, sugar, and milk, it is one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines. It is a custard dessert coated in a layer of caramel sauce that is served either warm or chilled.

If you’re celebrating the holidays in the country, make sure not to miss out on these heavenly treats.

Maligayang Pasko: In the Hearts of the Filipinos

Women in the Philippines are known for their lasting relationships with their families. Especially during Christmas, their celebration is a lot more special when they spend it with their loved ones.

Even without the cold climate, Christmas in the Philippines remains one of the most eventful celebrations in the world.

This year, celebrate a Filipino Christmas. It’ll be an unforgettable time with her and her family, who will soon be yours in the future.

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