Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Christmas in the Philippines, what’s it like? Read through this article and you’ll find out!
Just like any time we cover Christmas in another place or in another culture, I totally encourage you guys to check out some primary sources on the topic!
What is Christmas in the Philippines Called?
Christmas in the Philippines actually starts all the way back on September 1st. Celebrations start up then and continue all the way into December.
Over the months, Filipinos take part in the tradition of parading, partying, and concerts. But, the main celebration starts on December 16.
The nine church services following up to Christmas is called the Misa De Gallo, or “rooster’s mass”. At just 4:00 in the morning of the nine days, church bells ring and the Filipinos are called into service.
As Filipinos gather into the church, fireworks explode, causing any late sleepers to wake and join the service. During the service, vendors come to serve food and people gather in holy matrimony.
Bruh, this is way cooler than anything I’ve ever done for Christmas. The only time I get to see fireworks is on the 4th of July and even then it’s not as fun because my dad insists on making jokes every time one of the fireworks stops exploding.
“All right, everyone, let’s go home! That’s a wrap!”
“Looks like we’re all done here!”
The same jokes, the same horrible comedic timing, and the same pity laughs from the neighbors. I love you, Dad, but I said what needed to be said.
Then, after Christmas, Filipinos celebrate the “Twelve Days of Christmas”, the span between Christmas and Epiphany.
Epiphany, on January 6, is the end of the Christmas season, with parents giving their children gifts, and tons of parading and celebration!
In the Philippines, decorating your home is a very important part of the Christmas tradition. The Philippine’s most sacred decoration is a parol, which is a star-shaped lantern.
The parol is hung around the house, lighting up the scene. Parol represents the star that the Magi followed to find baby Jesus.
Most people use the traditional 5-pointed star, but some use stars with 6, 4, and even 10 points.
Parol’s used to be made from bamboo and li with coconut oil. Now, they’re made out of recycled materials like plastic and cardboard.
Also, Filipines use another decoration called Belen. Belen is a creche depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.
In the Belen, baby Christ is laying in a manger surrounded by Mary, Joseph, the Magi, and others. Belen is often used in schools, churches, homes, and workspaces.
Electric lights are also hung up around the house, and trees and Nativity Scenes are used in public display.
Christmas trees are often hung on balconies or porches for the whole town to see.
Some buy real pine trees for the Christmas season, and others buy artificial trees. Also, civilians might buy palm trees or even make their own.
My family has had the same artificial tree for like 10 years and while I totally get why that’s the case (less hassle, easier to take care of, etc.), I’ve always wanted to have a real tree that smells like Christmas. Or maybe I should just get those pine tree air fresheners. Same difference.
How do Filipinos Celebrate Christmas?
In the Philippines, Christmas is a very important holiday and it starts in September. So, Filipinos celebrate the Christmas season for about 4 months and Filipinos have a very unique way of celebrating it!
First, Filipinos give their house a thorough cleaning. Also, people buy new clothes to wear for the Midnight Mass.
Side note… Cleaning literally steals the life from my soul. It’s the worst. I have friends who love organizing and going through stuff and I just CAN’T. It physically, mentally, and psychologically exhausts me to the point that I have to do an hour of nothing in between twenty-minute increments of cleaning to keep from combusting.
Families also buy huge amounts of food for their holiday feasts. In the Philippines, Christmas is a large family affair.
Early in the evening on Christmas Eve, families gather at their grandparent’s house and celebrate. Even distant relatives visit their family for Christmas.
Later in the night, an abundance of families join together at church for Midnight Mass. After the service, the civilians join together for a Christmas banquet.
The celebration continues until about 5:00 a.m., and if anyone is still there, they’re welcome to spend the night. Later, in the morning of Christmas day, Christmas morning mass is attended by families everywhere.
On Christmas day, even more people come down to visit their families. Christmas dinner takes place midday.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas are the days between Christmas Day and Epiphany. Through the days, Filipinos parade and party!
On New Year’s Eve, Filipinos party and wait for the ball to drop, which is a tradition I always get hyped for only to be let down.
Like, the ball drops, people cheer, and I stand there like . ________ .
There are usually cheese cubes, though, and I LOVE CHEESE CUBES. They have the PERFECT DIMENSIONS. Literally SUPERIOR.
They use firecrackers, pots, and pans to make as much noise as possible during their party.
When the ball drops, everyone settles down for a huge feast. Their yummy feast includes ham, fruits, and candies.
On New Year’s day, January 1, everybody spends a nice, calm day with their family.
Epiphany, January 6, is the end of Christmas in the Philippines. Although Epiphany is listed on January 6, it’s celebrated on the first Sunday of January.
Some families follow the tradition of the Magi placing gifts in the children’s shoes, and other parents give gifts to the children themselves. On Epiphany, or Three King’s Day, citizens parade the streets throughout the day.
I suppose there won’t be any parades anytime soon, however, which kind of sucks. Wishing you all good health and safety.