Christmas Traditions in Philippines

Posted On December 10, 2006

Filed under Traditions Asia, World Traditions
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A brief history of the country > The Republic of the Philippines is a geographically large island nation located in southeast Asia. With its 7106 islands, it has a great diversity of terrains and also languages. Despite that, it is a predominantly Christian country, and about 90% catholic. The Philippines, named after King Philip of Spain, was a Spanish colony for more than three centuries up until 1896, at which time it gained independence with the help of the Americans, only for the Americans to assert control themselves and govern it as a colony. The Philippines is now an independent country, and has a rapidly growing population closing in on 100 million.

Due to it’s long Christian traditions, Christmas is a very important part of the Filipino culture, and the Philippines has one of the most interesting traditions in the world of observing the Christmas holiday. They are noted for having the longest Christmas holiday in the Christian world, sometimes beginning as early as September and not ending until the first Sunday in January, Three Kings’ Day.

A friend, who has been living there now for five years, has said that he has seen this early Christmas at first hand, and this year, Santa Claus made his first television appearance in a promotion starting in July!

However, the official start of the Christmas holiday in the Republic of the Philippines is December 16th, when the “misas de aguinaldo”, or “Gift Masses”, begin extremely early in the morning every day for nine consecutive days. These masses are very important to millions of people in the Philippines. Sometimes these masses may even start as early as 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. Those devout Christians are encouraged to attend each mass for those nine days, not missing any as a demonstration of their faith and devotion. 

On December 24th, the Filipino people also celebrate “la misa de gallo”, or the “Mass of the Rooster”. The rooster is used to refer to the rooster crowing at the sun at dawn. The “misa de gallo” is the final mass of the nine consecutive early morning masses, and is the official start of the Christmas day.

La Noche Buena, the Christmas feast, is an integral part of the Christmas holiday in the Philippines. The star of the Filipino Christmas meal is the giant ball of cheese and the juicy Christmas ham, but only for the few who can afford it. In many parts of the Philippines, in the run up to Christmas, children roam from house to house singing carols, just as children do in other parts of the world. Due to the poverty level, those extra few pesos can make a big difference to a many a Filipino family.

The Christmas celebration continues all the way through New Years Eve and New Years Day to January 6, which is the Three Kings’ Day. It’s party time and fireworks on Christmas Eve and new Year’s Eve, when people have fun and, apart from the fireworks, make loud noises to celebrate the New Year, as well as ward off any bad spirits that may be trying to enter. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Filipino families get together and partake in a New Year’s feast together to celebrate the coming of a brand new year. This is a time of great superstition in this country, children are seen jumping up at midnight in hopes that they will grow taller in the new year. 

All in all, Christmas is more religious and less material than in other parts of the world, but I wonder if that would be the case if people were not so poor.

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8 Responses to “Christmas Traditions in Philippines”

  1. Grace

    yes, christmas is really beyond words….it is incomparable and though i may say that poverty is affecting our country even until now, still Filipinos take time to spend this very special and important celebration with families, relatives, and friends..they do not let this social issue stop them from celebrating it..

    now, that i am in the us, i miss the philippines more and more each day, and if i were given a chance to go to a place to spend x’mas, would choose my beloved PHILIPPINES 😉

    Maligayang Pasko sa inyong Lahat at Manigong Bagong Taon 😉

  2. Lauren

    I have been to the Philippines I am actually 1/2 Filipino and some of the information on this website is un accurate! I don’t mean to be mean i just a giving you a heads up and telling you that you might want to check your information!

    Thank you

  3. rowie

    i am proud to be filipino. and i love christmas in my country. even if most people are avoiding it because it really costs a lot of money, i dont care. i am happy to give gifts even to those people i dont really know, given the chance and the resources of course. lol. christmas is sharing ur blessings. big or small, it is the thought that counts. it is just sad, i notice people dont have that spirit anymore. i wish that people will learn to share even just on this day… not only material things but kindness…christmas is especially for kids, let’s teach them the spirit of christmas that they may grow up being good people, unselfish and kind.

  4. mae

    I really miss Christmas in the Philippines.

  5. amanda

    I wish I could be in the philipines to celebrate christmas
    my mom lived their before and said it is so fun and don’t
    forget to mention exciting!

  6. amanda

    I wish I could be in the philipines to celebrate christmas
    my mom lived their before and said it is so fun and don’t
    forget to mention exciting!I am so proud to be a philipino
    it is so nice to have a mom from the philipines…..

  7. Norie

    Like the others who have marked their comment, I also miss Philippines so much specially this Yuletide season. I was brought up with the idea that Christmas is to give love, feel the warmth of your family and share your blessings to others.

  8. HanNa :)

    CHRISTMAS IN THE PHILIPPINES IS THE BEST!!

    Not only people put a lot of efforts to make it very special, you just feel the Christmas spirits more, than in other countries. The foods are amazing. and i miss them so much! [Don’t you?] so much fun! also in new year with all that fireworks!!!