Celebrating Christmas the Filipino Way

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Christmas is a big deal for Filipinos, and it’s a time many people look forward to. Whether you’re in the Philippines or somewhere else, Christmas feels like something truly special. People use this time to catch up with old friends, travel to cool places, or just spend time with family.

But Christmas in the Philippines is a bit different. We don’t just celebrate for a few weeks; we go all out for four long months, starting in the month September. During these months, you’ll see Christmas lights and decorations everywhere. People talk about Christmas on social media, and some start worrying about what gifts to give.

                                                 Photo source: Lakwatserong Caviteño

So, if someone asks how Filipinos celebrate Christmas, we’d say, “We do it the Filipino way.”

We start planning how to decorate our homes, save up for gifts, think about fun games for Christmas parties, and decide on the dishes we want to cook for the big Christmas Eve feast, called Noche Buena.

For Filipinos working abroad, the thing they might miss the most about Christmas in the Philippines is the special traditions we have. One of these is “Simbang Gabi” or Misa de Gallo, a series of nine early morning masses starting on December 16. Families gather for these masses to create a sense of togetherness and spiritual connection.

Photo source: Baclaran Phenomenon

Another favorite tradition is making and showing off colorful parols or Christmas lanterns. These lanterns represent the Star of Bethlehem and can be made from bamboo, paper, and capiz shells. There are even competitions for the best parol, adding some friendly competition to the festive season.

                                                                    Photo source: Lakwatserong Caviteño

Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without lively parties. Families, friends, and colleagues come together for the “Monito-Monita” gift exchange, where people secretly give small gifts to each other. This tradition builds friendships and brings joy to everyone involved.

As Christmas Eve comes, the most exciting part is the “Noche Buena,” a grand midnight feast that kicks off Christmas Day. Families prepare a delicious spread of traditional Filipino dishes like lechon (roast pig), Hamon (ham), queso de bola (Edam cheese), bibingka (rice cake), and puto bumbong (steamed purple rice cake). It’s a time for families to gather, share laughter, and be thankful for the blessings of the past year.

  Photo source: Positively Filipino

For Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Christmas in the Philippines is extra special. Many can’t wait to come home during the holidays to be with their families and take part in these beloved traditions. The warmth of Filipino hospitality, the joyful atmosphere, and all the festive activities make Christmas in the Philippines a unique and unforgettable experience, no matter how far away you are.

Celebrating Christmas the Filipino way is more than just decorations, gifts, or feasts. It’s about sharing joy, love, and togetherness—a true reflection of the Filipino spirit during this magical season. The festivities go beyond material things, emphasizing the importance of family, faith, and the genuine happiness that comes from being with loved ones on this special day.




About the Author:
Anjaneth Aco, the Marketing Copywriter of Calmar Land Development Corporation, generously shared her insights on how unique Filipinos celebrate Christmas. According to her, “Filipino Christmas makes me want to celebrate it every day. The joy it brings to each individual feels like home. It is something that I will always look forward to, no matter how much I age.”, she says.