Christmas is fast approaching, proven by the numerous holiday decorations that can be found anywhere you look. Christmas songs can be heard playing in houses, malls, and jeepneys. Even if the Philippines doesn’t have winter season which generally marks the holidays, Filipinos have other traditions and practices that make everyone immediately feel merrier. The happy vibe is contagious, which makes everyone feel more and more festive until the day of Christmas itself.
There’s no other way to celebrate Christmas the way Filipinos do. No matter where a Filipino goes, they will always crave for the Christmas celebration that they recognize.
The Christmas season starts in September
The Philippines is known to celebrate the longest Christmas season in the whole world. As soon as September 1, people already hang up their Christmas decorations and play Christmas songs loudly. Some people start celebrating even earlier than that, choosing to start being festive as soon as the last week of August. By December, various establishments and streets all over the country would have been decorated for months already. That’s what makes a Filipino Christmas so unique from other countries’ celebration – the Christmas season lasts for four months.
Filipinos stay up until midnight to celebrate Christmas
Those to spend Christmas outside of the country will eventually come to realize that not everyone celebrates the holiday the way that Filipinos do. Most countries don’t stay up until midnight to celebrate Christmas. Instead, they do their daily routine like any other day and go to sleep, because they celebrate Christmas on December 25th itself. Filipinos, however, celebrate Christmas as soon as they get off of work on the 24th until past midnight. People go to sleep, and then continue celebrating for the whole day. It’s not just a longer Christmas season in the Philippines, but even a longer Christmas Day celebration as well.
Everyone looks forward to the Noche Buena feast
Christmas won’t be complete without the Noche Buena. Aside from being a Christmas tradition, it is also a long-standing family tradition of eating delicious Filipino food. The holiday just wouldn’t feel right if there wasn’t sweetened ham, queso de bola, Filipino style sweet spaghetti, fruit salad, and a lot more. The exact food choices differ from family to family, but the importance of staying up and eating the Noche Buena remains the same.
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Like Christmas lanterns which Filipinos call “parol” and the Nativity Scene referred to as “belen.” there are plenty of traditions that Filipinos have adapted into our own culture. There’s the Monito-Monita, which is essentially Kris Kringle. There’s also Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi where Filipinos make a wish after completing all the masses. The foods puto bumbong and bibingka are a must-eat during the holiday season, and it is uncommon to be asked for “Aguinaldo.”
The season is so long that it also serves another purpose, which is to celebrate the end of the year. Once malls put up their Christmas trees and start advertising promos for holiday decorations, everyone knows that the year is about to come to an end. Ultimately, it is the combination of various Filipino traditions and strong family values that makes Filipino Christmas celebrations utterly distinct and unparalleled. Truly, there is no Christmas like a Filipino Christmas.