Philippine is one of the two predominantly Catholic countries in the world and Christmas is one big holiday celebration in the Philippines. People during the evening of December 24, goes to church to attend the midnight mass. After the mass family dine together around 12 for the much-anticipated Noche Buena – a traditional Christmas Eve feast is eaten after the midnight mass, usually Filipinos attend the Midnight Mass and then return home for a family feast called Noche Nuena.
The Noche Buena, is translated as “Good Night”, it is a Spanish word referring to the night of Christmas Eve. Filipino got this tradition during the colonization of the Spanish in the Philippines.
Christmas in the Philippines is one of the most celebrated and the most family-oriented celebrations in the Philippines. During this time of year, even without money, it is very important for families to get together and have a celebration. Families are very important to Filipinos. During Christmas, many families have their family reunions. The families gather together and have a happy time because after Christmas, everybody starts to be very busy with work and other activities to have time with the other members of the family clan. Christmas is the best time for all relatives to gather around and celebrate.
Christmas in the Philippines
The celebration of Christmas in the Philippines begins on the 16th of December and ends on the first Sunday of January which is the Feast of the Epiphany (The Three Kings). It is quite different from the other countries of the world, it is the longest of the Philippine festivities stretching for over 3 weeks. This makes the Filipino Christmas celebration one of the longest Christmas season in the world. A rich tradition which dates back to the Spanish period. Though Christmas in the Philippines may have been influenced by European traditions in the latter part of its history, its own traditions have surpassed the changing times. This has made Christmas in the Philippines quite unique.
You can find the local folks bringing out their Christmas decorations. The star of the season in the Philippines isn’t the Christmas tree but the Christmas star locally known as the Parol. You will find Parols hanging just about anywhere from malls, to offices, and even in the modest Filipino homes.
Starting on December 16, peolple gather to attend Mass at their local Catholic congregation. This part of the Philippine Catholic tradition is called Misa de Gallo also known as Simbang Gabi in the native vernacular. The mass start usually 3 a.m and ends before the Cock’s Crow .This is a religious Christmas tradition that has been passed on through centuries.
Caroling is very common before and during Christmas. Usually carolers start caroling during the 1st of December. You’ll get to see a gang of little kids walking from house to house singing the old time favorite Filipino Christmas carols. Even the older generation may go about caroling as well.
Christmas Eve is often celebrated by families at home enjoying a Christmas dinner at midnight. This tradition is called Noche Buena. It is a time for thanksgiving and a time for families to be together. Friends may also be invited to the Noche Buena and this is often a great honor. Gifts would usually be given during the Noche Buena or Christmas morning.
Christmas officially ends on the Feast of the Three Kings, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany. The Feast of the Three Kings was usually commemorated on Jan. 6 but is now celebrated on the first Sunday after the New Year. Some children leave their shoes out, so that the Three Kings would leave behind gifts like candy or money inside. After the Feast of the Three Kings that is when all the Christmas decorations are removed.
Christmas is the most awaited celebration and happiest event in the Philippines. This is also the time of the year when family getting together, especially when family members from overseas come home with lots of gifts, exchanging gifts and the family feast highlight the most loved celebration.
Dishes Usually Served During Noche Buena
Noche Buena takes place after the midnight Mass, it is a very special meal, more than just a breakfast or a dinner. Seasonal favorites are served, usually in buffet style. The Noche Buena feast shows the varied cultural influences in Philippine food, since it usually consists of a combination of native delicacies, rich Spanish-influenced fare, and contemporary Western favorites.
Is simply ham (from the Spanish jamon) that is baked and glazed. Fruit juices like pineapple, and brown sugar, are typically used for the glaze.
- Queso de Bola
Is the Filipino term, from Spanish, for Edam cheese. It is a ball-shaped (de bola) Dutch cheese coated with red wax. With its festive appearance, it is a favorite at Christmas time.
- Chicken relleno
Is a deboned chicken stuffed with savory ingredients like ground pork, ham, and sausage. It is served with gravy.
Is something a Philippine feast is rarely without. Pancit canton, Malabon, or any of the other delectable varieties of this Chinese-influenced noodle dish is sure to be found at a Noche Buena buffet.
Are roasted chestnuts commonly sold by sidewalk vendors in the Philippines during Christmas time.
- Puto Bumbong
Sticky rice puto that comes in a long thin shape and has a purple color. The elongated shape results from the method of cooking while its color comes from the violet pirurutong rice it is made of.
A rice cake that may have toppings of native white cheese and sliced salted duck eggs served with butter and grated coconut and sometimes sugar. Bibingka is enjoyed for breakfast on any occasion, but it is especially associated with Philippine Christmas.
- Halayang ube
Is a dessert made from boiled mashed ube (purple yam) mixed with coconut milk, evaporated milk, and sugar.
- Leche flan
Is rich caramel custard, made with eggs, milk and sugar and flavored with vanilla.
A Western Christmas treat, brought to the Philippines by the Americans, but Filipinos have their own versions that utilize native fruits and nuts.
Is the Philippine version of hot chocolate made from pure chocolate in tablea (tablet) or ball form.
- Baked macaroni
- Lumpia Shanghai
- Lechon kawali
- Crispy pata
- Black Forest cake
- Mango float
- Red Wine
- Halayang ube
- Queso de Bola
- Puto Bumbong
- Fruit salad
- Red Wine
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