Travel & Culture

Christmas The Philippine Way

It’s 57 days before the big day! Christmas! My most favorite time of the year. I am surprised at my self for not having put up the Christmas decorations as earlier as I used to (usually the Christmas tree is up in October). But I restrained myself and said I will do it later after the Halloween/ All Souls Day, as respect to my father who is gone before us and will no longer be able to celebrate Christmas with us this year and the succeeding years after. Sigh.

Anyway, I am trying to phase myself because I don’t want to get too overwhelmed decorating. So today I tackled installing the curtains that will go along with the Christmas decortion theme I am planing for the house.

I know my American, Canadian and British friends are wondering in amazement, I’m such a nut for my eagerness to put up Christmas decorations. But like I’ve said in my previous post, the Philippines celebrates Christmas the longest and it is actually considered a season here.

I would like to talk about the difference of Christmas celebration here in the Philippines compared to U.S., Canada and UK.

1) We don’t use real trees here.

Left: Our Christmas tree 15 years ago made of crumpled newspaper, my creation. Right: Last years Christmas tree, yup it’s plastic.

Yes we don’t use real trees here because we don’t have as much as abundant of pine trees or whatever kind of tree you use out there here in the Philippines. Cutting trees is illegal here. We either use plastic trees or other materials as Christmas tree like, strings, plastic bottles, newspapers, paper cups and many other stuff that can make a semblace of the holiday decorative tree. Plastic tree is recyclable and can be used for as long as you the tree is usable with proper storage and handling. We always think of ways we can save.

2) We don’t have Chimneys here.

We make our children believe in Santa Clause but we tell them he gets in the house throughthe window.

3) We have 9 early mornings or nights novena masses as a prelude the main event, the birth of Jesus Christ.


Church goers during Simbang Gabi (Midnight Mass)

Being a Catholic country, Jesus and not Santa Clause is the center of our celebration here. The mass is held everyday starting December 16. Depending on your parish church there is a mass in the evening 8pm or early morning starting at 3am, 4am, and 5am. We call it Simbang Gabi. There is a belief that the wish of a person who has completed the 9 days novena mass will be fulfilled. I can attest to that.

4) Ham and Quezo de Bola is the star of the feast and not the turkey.

Fiesta Ham and Keso de Bola

Turkey is not so common here in the Philippines, the star of our Noche Buena (Christmas dinner) is the fiesta ham, sweet, smoked or chinese style, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s plump, round and comes in the fiesta box package! Quezo de bola or cheese wrapped in red wax is also always present at the dinning table. (I will tell you more about our Christmas menu in my upcoming post so stay tuned)

5) Godchildren flock and visit to claim their Christmas gifts.

I have a dozen godchildren and every Christmas I make sure each of them has a gift ready because this is the only time of the year they come to visit. We call this Namamasko sa mga Ninang at Ninong na mga Inaanak.

6) Carolers flock your homes starting December 16.

Mostly it’s kids around the neighbor church choir members singing Christmas carols at nighttime starting at 6pm onwards. But actually the kids no longer sing nowadays, they just make noises with their improvised instruments like a drum made of a milk can and plastic, and maracas made of bottle caps. Then come December 25, they no longer sing but just knock on your doors or gates to claim their Christmas presents!

Even if our country is hot, we still consider December as our “cold” months. So we find a way to wear our sweatshirts and longsleves most especially when attending the early morning/ night novena mass.

These are just some of the ways why Christmas here in the Philippines is so unique and fun.

How about in your place, how do you celebrate Christmas?

Posted for: Tackle it Tuesday and Talk About Tuedays

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21 Comments

  1. What I like the most about Christmas here in the Philippines is the Noche Buena. All that food and all your loved ones with you.

  2. Jill Scott

    Thanks for sharing about Christmas in your culture. That was very interesting. You are smart to pace yourself in putting up your decorations. Congrats on your tackle.

  3. Just call me 'A'

    oh wow! this is such interesting stuff. if only the world would made their own christmas tree instead of cutting down, we would be doing more than our bit for global warming.

    you’re making me nostalgic about Christmas already. awwwww…i can’t wait for December.

    A

  4. Just call me 'A'

    oh wow! this is such interesting stuff. if only the world would made their own christmas tree instead of cutting down, we would be doing more than our bit for global warming.

    you’re making me nostalgic about Christmas already. awwwww…i can’t wait for December.

    A

  5. Just call me 'A'

    oh wow! this is such interesting stuff. if only the world would made their own christmas tree instead of cutting down, we would be doing more than our bit for global warming.

    you’re making me nostalgic about Christmas already. awwwww…i can’t wait for December.

    A

  6. Just call me 'A'

    oh wow! this is such interesting stuff. if only the world would made their own christmas tree instead of cutting down, we would be doing more than our bit for global warming.

    you’re making me nostalgic about Christmas already. awwwww…i can’t wait for December.

    A

  7. ~michelle pendergrass

    Oh! I want to have Christmas with you!!! (I put my Christmas tree up in October last year. And, uhm, I didn’t take it down until summer.) LOL!!

    I remember when I was young, my doctor was Filipino and every time I’d visit him, he’d make me feel so good because I have a large birth mark on my hand, and he’d tell me it was a kiss from God and I was very special to have it.

  8. The Happy Housewife

    Sounds like a lot of fun. I always put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. Not this year though, we will be out of town. I usually take it down the day after Christmas! I can’t stand the needles.

  9. krisijo

    I love christmas traditions!I love having the ham at Christmas!
    Also, Quiet some time ago you came to my blog, and commented on the headbands! I had just started this blogging, and didn’t know how to respond:)
    If you are still interested, you can email me from my blog info!
    Have a great day!

  10. mnkristy

    Thanks for sharing about your country. Interesting!

  11. Heidi Boos

    Sounds like Christmas in your home is filled with many traditions! Enjoy your Christmas season with all of your beautiful creations and thanks for stopping by my blog…

  12. Susie

    Great tackle!

  13. earthlingorgeous

    @ Liza You are most welcome glad to bring you back to memory lane ๐Ÿ™‚

    @ Kristi That’s a cute tradition you have putting up Christmas decorations on your birthday! Glad you learned something new from my post.

    @ Sherry Wow! That is so sweet of you delivering cookies to neighbors in secret, they must be very happy to find such a treat! Christmas is such a fun time to gather and celebrate with the entire family, friends and relatives. It’s my favorite time of the year!

  14. earthlingorgeous

    @ Liza You are most welcome glad to bring you back to memory lane ๐Ÿ™‚

    @ Kristi That’s a cute tradition you have putting up Christmas decorations on your birthday! Glad you learned something new from my post.

    @ Sherry Wow! That is so sweet of you delivering cookies to neighbors in secret, they must be very happy to find such a treat! Christmas is such a fun time to gather and celebrate with the entire family, friends and relatives. It’s my favorite time of the year!

  15. Sherry

    Great to learn about your traditions for CHRISTmas! We like to bake cookies at the beginning of December then give them out to friends and neighbors (secretly). On CHRISTmas eve, the children put on their own production complete with piano pieces, songs, Bible reading of Luke 2, poem recitations, etc. CHRISTmas morning we all open presents and share. We then have a big dinner in the afternoon. I can’t wait! We are going to see family this year.

    Have a great Tuesday!
    Sherry

  16. Kristi

    I’m getting ready too. I always decorate on my birthday, November 17th. I enjoyed reading about your traditions! Blessings to you.

  17. Liza's Eyeview

    Oh I love Christmas too – and I miss Christmas in the Philippines. This made me nostalgic ๐Ÿ™‚ – thanks for the post.

  18. Liza's Eyeview

    Oh I love Christmas too – and I miss Christmas in the Philippines. This made me nostalgic ๐Ÿ™‚ – thanks for the post.

  19. Liza's Eyeview

    Oh I love Christmas too – and I miss Christmas in the Philippines. This made me nostalgic ๐Ÿ™‚ – thanks for the post.

  20. Liza's Eyeview

    Oh I love Christmas too – and I miss Christmas in the Philippines. This made me nostalgic ๐Ÿ™‚ – thanks for the post.

  21. Liza's Eyeview

    Oh I love Christmas too – and I miss Christmas in the Philippines. This made me nostalgic ๐Ÿ™‚ – thanks for the post.

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