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How We Celebrate Christmas in the Philippines

Updated on July 1, 2011

Christmas in the Philippines is a very, very festive occasion. It’s the most anticipated holiday of the year!

Being a predominantly Catholic nation, Christmas is our most celebrated holiday. Traditions abound in various parts of our country during this time. This is the time when Filipinos working in various parts of the globe flock the international airports just to get a flight home and be with their families during this time. Even locally, the domestic flights are packed with locals who want to go home to their provinces or hometowns to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas is also a great time for our retailers, supermarkets, department stores and merchandisers. Sales during the last quarter of the year leading to Christmas day alone beat the sales of these businessmen for the first three quarters! Even during hard times, sales are still better during this time of the year (albeit not as good during the pre-crisis years) than any of the other months during the same year.

So, in celebration of this wonderful season, I am writing this hub as an introduction to how we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines.

The wonderful parols (
The wonderful parols (

The ‘Ber Months

What are these months? Let me just enumerate them – September, October, November and December. The Philippines actually has one of the longest Christmas seasons (it has been said that we have the longest Christmas season) and it starts on September. As early as September, you will already hear Christmas carols being sung on the radio and on TV. Decors are already starting to sprout up or sold for the buyers who are starting to shop around for Christmas. Christmas gifts are already on display in various stores around the country.

The Decors

Christmas decors in the Philippines are widely abundant and colorful. We have the lanters or the ‘Parols’, which are beautiful, hand-made and are so colorful, you’ll be scratching your heads trying to choose one for your homes. Then we have the Christmas tree which is really a plastic Christmas tree (we don’t have pine trees here, sorry). The Belen, a tableau showcasing the Nativity Scene (Mary, Joseph and Jesus plus the Three Wise Men, plus the shepherds and the angels), is also another staple in our Christmas decorations. Christmas lights are also ever present during this time. In fact, some homeowners go all out and decorate their gates, rooftops and their houses with these lights (some put in like thousands of these lights outside their homes!).

The Food

The food! Christmas gifts can be in the form of food (Food for the Gods or the Rhum Cake) or wines and spirits. Hams (of various types, shapes and sizes) are sold in abundance during this time. Keso de Bola (cheese shaped like a ball) also goes hand in hand with the ham. Lechon (roasted pig) is another staple during this time (oooohhh, my blood pressure!) especially here in my place where they ran out of pigs during the Christmas season! What else? Filipino desserts such as leche flan, halayang ube, puto, bibingka, mmmmmmm! And who can forget the fruit salad or the macaroni salad (getting hungry here)!

A Christmas Tree (
A Christmas Tree (

Christmas Traditions

We celebrate a lot of traditions during this time. There’s the Misa de Gallo (dawn mass) which starts from December 16 and ends nine days later on the eve of Christmas. Usually the Misa de Gallo happens at around 4:00 in the morning but lately, the churches are also conducting Misa de Gallo at around 9 or 10 in the evening. Those who complete the nine days (also considered a novena) are said to have their wishes granted after the nine days.

Christmas parties are another tradition here. These parties will not be complete without the Kris Kringle or the exchange gifts. Here, the participants draw out the names of their partners beforehand (it’s a secret, of course) then exchange the gifts during the party. There are also contests, parlor games and song and dance numbers to make the party more fun and exciting.

Christmas Day (December 25) is a celebration by itself. Families go to mass on December 24 then gather around their homes at the stroke of midnight to partake of the Noche Buena food.

The New Year’s Eve is another tradition within this season. To celebrate the incoming new year, Filipinos stay awake the night of December 31st to prepare food, light up fireworks and firecrackes and eat the Media Noche at the stroke of midnight.

Stage plays are also much anticipated during this time. The reenactment of what happened during Jesus’ birth is a common theme for these plays. Sometimes, even, the couples who play Mary and Joseph go around the neighborhood and knocked on people’s doors (pre-arranged of course) where they get subsequently turned down before they found their place on a ‘manger’ which happens to be inside the parish church. This is called ‘Panunuluyan’.

Lastly, Christmas carols and songs round up our Christmas traditions. Caroling (going around the houses and singing Christmas songs or carols) is a very common tradition, where the singers are rewarded with coins, or food or both. In fact, caroling can sometimes become the preferred activity to raise funds for groups.

And this rounds up how the Philippines celebrate Christmas. Hope you enjoy reading this hub. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

How do you celebrate Christmas?

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    • profile image

      wow i really had a great time love scarlet 5 years ago

      scarlet55 love this nice one philippines

    • profile image

      nikki 6 years ago

      christmas is so popular anywhere because it is the time when jesus was born........................

    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 6 years ago from USA

      This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing the information and I hope you had a great Christmas this year!

    • profile image

      Garry 6 years ago

      we celebrate christmas by sharing and giving to other people.......

      merry christmas to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      ramboruiz 6 years ago

      wow we both love Christmas sa Pinas =) I also wrote a hub with the same topic ,, maligayang pasko kapatid..

    • profile image

      bubbles 7 years ago

      great job! Go Philippines!

    • profile image

      kristel fernandez 7 years ago


      love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • profile image

      leong 7 years ago

      i love christmas in the ohilippines because it shows the true culture of it.

    • askjanbrass profile image

      askjanbrass 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I had no idea Christmas was played such a predominant role in the Philippine culture! I thought Christmas started early here with decorations, carols, and advertisement starting the day after Thanksgiving... I stand corrected :)

      Very lovely lanterns too.

    • annettenasser profile image

      annettenasser 7 years ago

      you cannot buy of the happiness & smile of the family together during christmas holiday...

    • annettenasser profile image

      annettenasser 7 years ago

      christmas is the most wonderful holiday i ever know & i will always have it to celebrate what ever happens...

    • profile image

      Argie C. Guston 7 years ago

      decorations nga

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      @xbox, it is fun. Thanks.

      @Ginn, you're welcome and thank you for reading my hub.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 8 years ago

      I really enjoyed this and loved learning about your celebrations---never to old to learn and enjoy! Thank you.

    • xboxps3wow profile image

      xboxps3wow 8 years ago from chicago

      that looks like a lot of fun! We don't really do much on christmas here in chicago.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Yup, it is. Thanks Dame Scribe.

    • Dame Scribe profile image

      Dame Scribe 8 years ago from Canada

      I bet the lantern festival must be a popular activity and so beautiful. Great info! :)

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      You're welcome prettydarkhorse.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 8 years ago from US

      miss it and my family and my children too, miss Christmas there, like no other....thanks for shring this one emievil,,,

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks Naomi. You're welcome to come over here anytime, Christmas or no Christmas :).

    • NaomiR profile image

      NaomiR 8 years ago from New York

      Ah, I was waiting for you to write something about the Philippines, Emie! Your celebrations sound beautiful ... I'm just about ready to book a flight over there!

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks ripplemaker. Mine too. I miss the Christmas lights in Makati plus the Christmas shopping there :).

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Christmas is my favorite time of the year. :) Wonderful hub about what we do here in the Philippines.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks Keira.

    • profile image

      Keira7 8 years ago

      Nice to find out how different people around the world celebrate Christmas.Thanks Emievil and God Bless.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hi topgunjager, we get to receive 'aginaldo' too when we were young. But now that we're old, we give the 'aginaldo'. *ouch* I can just hear my purse complain :).

    • topgunjager profile image

      topgunjager 8 years ago from Sunnyvale, CA

      I love christmas in the philippines, and it's the same in every part you go, all the kids go looking around for their godparents to ask them for money, now that's real christmas=)

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks missalyssa. We'll try to search some in Amazon. It would be nice if they sell parols online :).

    • missalyssa profile image

      missalyssa 8 years ago

      Just re-read it and LOVE it even more!! Great job emievil!! I wonder if I could find parols at world market or someplace like that...i will check it out ant let you know :)

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Hey dohn, seriously we do get money. It's an annual fund-raising activity for some groups and yes, people often invite some carolers to eat something. But these are those that formally inform their 'targets' before the caroling night :). For those kids who just go house to house, we just give them some coins. :)

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Loved it Emie. Carolers really get money AND food in some cases? In some places where I live, the only "food" they'd get is an in-flight tomato, lol. No, seriously, that's really cool. In the U.S. people in most cases aren't so hospitable nor benevolent to go as far as that! Thanks, Emie.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks everyone for the comments. missalyssa, thanks for the email.

      @Hello, you are very welcome. Its always nice to see your comments on my hubs :).

      Thanks Ms. Patty Inglish. That's a great compliment coming from you :).

      @green light, yup. Merry Christmas! You're not going home for Christmas?

      @Carol, uhm unfortunately no. The activities are packed in December. But you can see the parol and the Christmas lights as early as October or even September.

      @GoldiString, lol, acapella would be nice. I'll put under lock and chains my two dogs so that they won't complain :). Thanks for the comment. Come home for Christmas (I sound like the Department of Tourism here LOL).

      @missalyssa, I don't know if they're selling the parol online but I'll look around :). Thanks.

    • missalyssa profile image

      missalyssa 8 years ago

      Merry Christmas! I loved this!! Great hub!! The parols are AMAZING!! Going to have to look into getting some online :) Great job!!

    • GoldiString profile image

      GoldiString 8 years ago

      Advance notice: I will be caroling at your house sometime first week of December. Would you like me to sing acapella? hope your 2 dogs won't mind. Lol!..Hi there Emie. Wonderful hub. I am homesick.

    • xpango profile image

      xpango 8 years ago

      Hi,my friend!Your free gift here(Mobile Phones, Gaming Consoles, MP3 Players & HDTVs...)

      Just join now

    • Carol the Writer profile image

      Carolyn Blacknall 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      That sounds like fun. If we visit in November, can we see many of the Christmas activities? I may go next year. - Carol

    • green light profile image

      green light 8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Now I miss home even more;-(

      But i thank you for sharing to the world the vibrance and wonders of our very own Christmas traditions!

      Merry Christmas! ( it is a "ber" month already ryt?!)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I like the parols and the videos accentuate them nicely. Thumbs up!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      That was really great reading about your Christmas celebrations. I love reading about other people's traditions. It is so interesting, Thank you for sharing.