The island state is considered the ultimate Christmas destination and celebrates from September to January
Amidst tropical palm trees and bright blue skies, the Philippines is experiencing a festive season that is second to none. Christmas on the islands is a true celebration of traditions, family and culinary delights. The Filipino Christmas season stretches over months and often begins as early as September. The island nation celebrates what is probably the longest Christmas in the world. The anticipation of the festival is reflected in the decorated streets and the sounds of cheerful Christmas music, which can be heard from September onwards.
Noche Buena – culinary delights under the Christmas tree
The highlight of Filipino Christmas traditions is the “Noche Buena”, the festive Christmas meal that is eaten in the midnight hour of December 24th after celebrating Christmas mass. Families gather here to enjoy traditional dishes such as lechon (suckling pig), bibingka (rice cake) and puto bumbong (rice noodles). Some families also open gifts at this time.
Family is also the main focus on Christmas Day (December 25th) in the Philippines. In the morning, Filipinos usually visit their extended family, especially to show their respect to older relatives. This custom is expressed by “Págmamáno,” where the back of an elder’s hand is taken and pressed against one’s own forehead. The elder responds by saying a blessing or acknowledging the gesture, and in return gives money in the form of new banknotes, often in a red envelope called “ang pao,” which comes from Chinese culture.
Christmas festivities often extend until “Three Kings Day” on January 6th, when the arrival of the three kings is celebrated. The turn of the year in the Philippines also brings with it many traditions and customs. On December 31, families gather for the “Media Noche,” an opulent midnight celebration that symbolizes hopes of prosperity in the coming year and lasts until the next morning. At midnight, Filipinos traditionally make noise, both to welcome the New Year and in the belief that the noise will rid those around them of malevolent spirits