Category: Comparison of Christmas celebration between Philippines and other country

Being used to spending Christmas in the Philippines would make a person express awe at the different environment that may be encountered in Europe. Indeed, there is no comparison to the long tradition that the Philippines have practiced over the past decades. It is a combination of European and North American plus Filipino cultures that make Christmas a really memorable event for many families.

The dark gray sky ushers in winter, when the nights are longer during Christmas.


It is pretty much the same in other countries. Christmas in predominantly Christian or Catholic countries are dominated by feasts and exchange of gifts. It is by far the only holiday in many countries that places Jesus Christ in the centre of the celebrations. For the politically correct, sometimes, Christmas becomes “X” mas – which somehow losses some of its early Christian origins but nonetheless provides the bridge for different faiths to bond.

The winter landscape depicts Christmas in the North - just like some of the cards we receive from abroad!


Winter is central to any celebration of Christmas, since it is the season that prevails during those days. It is common to experience zero to minus degrees Celsius in any ordinary day. From Western Europe, there prevail higher temperatures (0° to -12° Celsius) due to the Gulf Stream. If the Stream does not exist, then Europe would have winter most times of the year. As one goes to the East towards Germany, Eastern Europe and the Russian steppes, temperatures could very well get uncomfortable at (-40°) degrees Celsius.

The snowman is a popular figure during Christmas. It is however possible to make other figures from fallen snow!


The Bûche de Noël is a traditional dessert in France. It is sometimes laced with wine and with a blue flame for a few seconds to depict the logs in the fireplace.

Like the Filipinos, Europeans spend time with their families. At least those who choose to spend their holidays at home. Many though, leave the cold in Europe and go touring in Africa or Asia. It is not uncommon to see families having fun and celebrating in their gardens – pretty much like here, for those which have an extra plot in their homes or condos.

Snow on the road makes it slippery. There is not much "rushing" when that happens at Christmas.


There is a dark side though during the holidays. While poverty ravages the Philippines regardless of the season and time of the year, in Europe the few homeless people or elderly living alone sometimes suffer from depression or die due to the extreme cold. In France, the social welfare department often invites (or forces) the homeless to occupy abandoned subway stations with heaters. Some who don’t make it can be seen sleeping covered in blankets and cartons beside heater exhausts of buildings.


Christmas is for kids, they said. But they should be adequately protected when they frolick in the snow.

Despite this, Christmas remains to be the world’s attempt to rejuvenate and have happy times with family. This tradition, may be different across countries, have the same meaning to everyone.#


A yuletide song would say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. It is a rare opportunity where families and friends gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Celebrating Christmas may vary depending on the country’s tradition. The tropical Christmas that we have in the Philippines may be different from those of the Western Hemisphere. This variation of Christmas traditions sparks curiosity especially to Filipinos who are longing of a White Christmas. A fellow Filipino will show us how they celebrate White Christmas in one of Europe’s most innovative country by far and the home of Swiss Alps – Switzerland.

The Swiss Flag is the federal symbol of Switzerland or the Swiss Confederation.

Before we get to know how Switzerland celebrates Christmas, a quick rundown about the country would be a great appetizer. Switzerland, according to the World Economic Forum, is one of the richest countries in the world. It is also the birthplace of Red Cross. Switzerland or the Swiss Confederation has not been in a state of war internationally since 1815. As a result, it is considered as a neutral country. Switzerland is comprised of three main linguistic and cultural regions like German, Italian, and French.

Nenita Orenday – Bur during her March 2011 Philippine vacation.

Nenita Orenday – Bur is a dual citizen of both Philippines and Switzerland. In her 50 years of existence, half of it had experienced a tropical Filipino Christmas. The other half was spent in Lucerne, North-Central Switzerland where she became an Overseas Filipino Worker for Rado and Bulova Watches. Later on, she married a Swiss watchmaker named Marcel Bur. She eventually got her Swiss citizenship.

Nenita was amazed the first time she celebrated Christmas in Switzerland. The freezing weather and snow made a big difference from that of a windy Christmas weather in the Philippines. The sceneries in Switzerland during Christmas season are like beautiful pictures in calendars that they have in the Philippines. It was truly a dream come true, a White Christmas in the flesh. “Christmas in Switzerland is not as loud as in the Philippines. The views are beautiful but people choose to stay indoors because of the snow coming from the Swiss Alps.” she explained.

Ringli – Swiss homemade doughnuts.

Another difference that she noticed was the absence of 9 mornings of “Simbang Gabi” or the Filipino Midnight Mass which she had celebrated as a child. Many Swiss families go to churches to attend Midnight Mass only during Christmas Eve. Puto Bumbong, Bibingka, Suman, Chestnuts and Tablea Hot Chocolates of Batangas are mostly seen outside of Filipino churches during Simbang Gabi. On the other hand, huge homemade doughnuts called ringli and Swiss Hot Chocolate is shared by Swiss families. Aside from watches, Switzerland is also known for different kinds of chocolates from white to dark flavors.

The Advent calendar is a significant part of the Swiss Christmas tradition. Many Swiss children take it on little flaps with windows and each had images that symbolize a Christmas scene. Both Philippines and Switzerland practice Christmas Carols. For Nenita, she really misses the little voice of Filipino children with their improvised tambourine and drums made out of softdrink taps and empty milk cans. Swiss children are cute while singing but behave a bit formal. Filipino children are more jolly and enthusiastic while singing Christmas Carols which made it more entertaining.

For Nenita, Filipino Carollers are more jolly and enthusiast than Swiss Children.

Jesus Christ as a celebrant of Christmas is represented by an angelic figure in Switzerland. It is also believed to be the symbol of the guiding star of Bethlehem. Meanwhile, Filipinos would represent Jesus as a child in the manger during Christmas.  Santa Claus has been adapted to Filipino Christmas traditions but in Switzerland, he plays a much smaller role. Swiss believes that Santa Claus or for them “Samichlaus” was not accompanied by reindeer rather by a donkey and a dark-clad assistant.

Nenita recalls how exciting and fun it is to shop in Divisoria for Christmas gifts.

Nenita remembers how Filipinos diligently shop and go to malls just to add to the Christmas rush. She also misses midnight sale and challenge to lower the price of the item. In Switzerland, malls are closed as early as six in the evening. Because of this, she did not fully enjoy the shopping experience. She was still happy at the end of the day because chocolates in Switzerland are of bargain prices, they are abundant. She always sends chocolates to relatives in big boxes.

With regards to exchange gifts, Christmas dinner, and Christmas decorations, Nenita said that there is no difference between the Philippines and Switzerland. “We also practice exchange gifts and even have our own Swiss family dinner. Swiss people are also family oriented. They sing songs of praise while decorating the Christmas tree during Christmas Eve.” she said. Unlike in Switzerland, Filipinos decorate their Christmas tree at the start of the “Ber” months. The Philippines has the longest celebration of Christmas in the world starting from September until the feast of the Epiphany in January.

It has been 25 years since Nenita have celebrated Christmas in the Philippines. She returns every two to five years but her work schedule would not allow her to travel during holidays. “Swiss Christmas tradition is always a joyful and solemn celebration but in my heart, I would always long for a Filipino Christmas. It is a different feeling when you celebrate Christmas in the Philippines. “ she revealed on the interview.

Through Nenita’s story of Swiss White Christmas, similarities and differences from Philippine tropical Christmas was presented. From there, a discovery of the true meaning of Christmas was shown. It is always amazing to see how other parts of the world, like Switzerland, celebrate the birth of Jesus. We get thrilled of their White Christmas complete with falling snowflakes. But as Filipinos, we should also be proud of our own Christmas because it is the happiest Christmas in the world. We may not be as rich as Switzerland in terms of money but we are rich in values, unique traditions, and unending smiles for everyone. It is always nice to taste a White Christmas for it is mostly every Filipinos dream. But we can all agree that Filipino Christmas, even without our dream snow, is the best because it does not end only in the Epiphany. It stays forever through the love of our savior in the manger.

Merry Christmas every one. One Love.

Images Source:


Brecia, or Isyang, as what I fondly call her, is my best buddy in high school. During Christmas time, we usually spent our nights in Cainta, Rizal (at their old grandma’s house), letting the night pass us by, talking about what gifts we want to receive, the clothes we’ll wear in our party, and what we want to eat while munching V-cut or Chippy which we bought from nearby 7-Eleven.

For years, we exchanged gifts just because, even how simple it was, from letters and simple singing greeting cards to handcrafted scrapbooks and self-made bookmarks.


But that was all before. She is now in the United States with her family where she resides for good.  After that, my Christmas without my friend has been all different.


It has been three years since she left. Now, she is thousands of miles apart from me, from us, her friends. Days of greeting each other during Christmas season, of giving gifts, of visiting their house and of waking up at dawn for Simbang Gabi have been replaced with short chats on Facebook and limited phone calls during special occasions.


But this article is not about me missing her physical presence and all. And that how we miss her dearly not just during Christmas but all year round is, of course, another story worthy to be told in an another write-up. Oh how I love to do that. An essay on friendship for our barkada with cheesy recalls on traveling down memory lane can be a sort of Christmas present for her.


Yes, I know. I’m a bit drifting here.


Well anyway, in one of our rare long chats, I asked her about how she has been celebrating her Christmas for the past three years, since she can be my topic in our online journalism article requirement. Oh yes, this was the reason why I’m writing this.


First, I asked her how it feels to be celebrating the Yuletide season in a country away from what she has been used to. She said that, at first, it felt weird. The climate, the people around, the different environment, and the adjustment period.


But their Christmas celebration, for three years, has still been a merry one.


What they have been used to before was still present in their every celebration. Though she misses a lot of things, she said it still feels, somehow, like home.


Her mother finds time to cook her favourites like spaghetti, crispy pata, shanghai and macaroni salad. They usually share them with their neighbours who, in exchange, also give what their share of ham, turkey and pie they have prepared for noche buena.


Their family tradition of giving gifts has not also faded. They would always put their Christmas presents under their Christmas tree and wait for the Christmas Eve to open the gifts.


Because she also now has a work in a perfume company, she managed to buy herself, as a Christmas gift, a car, which she has to pay for four years. She also saves money to give gifts for her siblings and mother. She compared that in Sacramento, she, her co-workers, and her sister always have drinking sessions together after work during Christmas day since it is not a holiday.  They also find time to visit yearly the Parade of Lights in Orangevale, California were they love to take pictures and have an afternoon picnic.

But still, she misses the Philippine culture of celebrating Christmas—a Christmas filled with Christmas carols, videoke with friends (drinking sessions sometimes), the abundance of food and the exchange of gifts. She said she misses them so much. So much that she always wishes to be here even just for Christmas and New Year. To be with other relatives, to hear street kids sing Christmas carols and even share candies packed in ice plastics.


Attending simbang gabi, for instance, has been her tradition with our barkada for two years before she left for States. We recalled how we woke up at pre-dawn, without even taking a bath, then heading towards their church ion Cainta, Rizal for the mass. She laughed when she remembered how we all shared with a little puto bumbong while enduring the colds of the Christmas weather because we forget to bring our jackets.


But she now lives in Sacramento where she hangs out with a new bunch of people, deals in a different culture and settings in her lifetime.


However, our barkada never ceases to keep on touch for even just a single message in Facebook saying how she misses us mean a lot to us. This makes our friendship even stronger amidst the vast ocean and continent that separate us.


It was good to reminisce our past memories together, though it seems that we have to wait for a long time, years, or decades perhaps, to experience those again with her, and with our other friends. But still, I know, Christmas, in its deepest essence, is the time to celebrate the birth of the Lord and the joy of having our loved ones, though some are miles apart. Christmas is not about the physical presence of love ones (though it sill counts) nor the distance. Its about spreading and giving love.– Gelyka Ruth R. Dumaraos

Have you ever wonder this kind of situation where you will spend your Christmas with other family not with your love ones and far away from home. For me it’s hard to celebrate the Christmas alone, we feel empty about ourselves and it is unacceptable towards our feelings.

Thousands of Oversea Filipino Workers (OFW) go and work abroad, they live there families inorder to earn money and spend for their daily living. It takes years before they come back but others return in their ‘home sweet home’ during Christmas season. They want to spend their Christmas together with their love ones.  Just like my Auntie name Percy Rosin who is an oversea worker in Dubai for four years, every year she always spend her Christmas here in the Philippines. One time I asked her “Why do you need to have a long journey and spend an expensive fair in order to spend your Christmas here in the Philippines?  After few seconds  she replied “the Christmas here in the Philippines is unique  there is no such thing you can compare the way Filipinos celebrate Christmas, in middle east the people don’t prepare for this holiday season, they just go on with their own businesses and focus with their works. There are some people who celebrate the Christmas in Middle East and I’m pretty much sure that most of them are Filipinos. The Muslim people don’t give much attention if it is Christmas time because they have their  own celebration”. Her answer makes me feel that we are a true Christian people because we spend more time preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ. As a Christian country we prioritize this occasion as one of the most important event in our life. We celebrate it once a year and we must be thankful that our Savior is born.                                                                                                   Image

Christmas in the Dubai

Muslims people don’t celebrate Christmas during December; they have their own which is called Eidul Fitr and Eidul Adha. Eidul Fitr comes after the holy month of Ramadan and two months later Eidul Adha to coincide with the Hajj this occasion comes before March. During the celebration they have a ritual practice and limitations which they must follow, like not eating different kinds of meat such as pork, beef, etc. and also other beverages like liquors, wine and beer. There are many things that  the Muslim people should consider during their Eidul Fitr or Christmas celebration compare to us Filipinos that we spend more inorder for us to feel the true essence of Christmas.Image

Christmas in the Philippines

The Philippine abuzz with so much celebration. Being the only Christian dominated country in Asia, the Philippines start the season as soon as the calendar hit the “-ber” months. So, as early as September, the countdown to Christmas begins, Christmas songs fill the airwaves, and Christmas decor adorn the malls, streets, buildings, and homes. On Christmas day, families gather together over roasted pig and party food. Then, they all go together to attend church, which is usually overcrowded on that day. That is how the Filipinos celebrate the holiday season. I think it is where the most joyful celebration of Christmas happen.


The Philippines has its colorful Christmas Celebration compare to other places . That’s why even if many Filipino work in other country ,they are far away from home but during Christmas they still prefer to commemorate their Holiday season here in the Philippines or their ‘Home Sweet Home’.



I grew up in a Filipino catholic family were every month of December we light our own Advent wreath,  catholic families usually  light the advent wreath for preparing for the coming of our savoir Jesus Christ.


The Advent wreath has four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.


In family practice, the Advent wreath is most appropriately lit at dinner time after the blessing of the food. A traditional prayer service using the Advent wreath proceeds as follows: On the First Sunday of Advent, the father of the family blesses the wreath, the youngest child then lights one purple candle. During the second week of Advent the oldest child lights the purple candle from the first week plus one more purple candle. On the third week of Advent the mother lights the two previously lit purple candles plus the rose candle. The father prays during the fourth week of Advent, the father lights all of the candles of the wreath.


The light again signifies Christ, the Light of the world. Some modern day adaption’s include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is to replace the three purple and one rose candles with four white candles, which will be lit throughout Christmas season.



But the traditions of Egyptians, most Egyptian Christians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church and they have some very unique traditions for Christmas. For the 40 days before Christmas Coptic Orthodox Christians fast (don’t eat any meat products except for fish). This is called ‘The Holy Nativity Fast’. The Coptic month leading to Christmas is called Kiahk. People sing special praise songs on Saturday nights before the Sunday Service.


We celebrate our Christmas on the 25th of the December while in Egypt they celebrate it on the 7th of the January, even though not many in Egypt are Christians, a lot of people in the country like to celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. Christmas is becoming very commercial and most major supermarkets sell Christmas trees, Christmas food and decorations. Hotels, parks and streets are decorated for Christmas.


We all have our own special way to prepare for the Christmas Season and we all have the right to practice what are the customs and tradition in every way we all must be prepared and thankful for the blessing and challenges that we encounter. Those traditions are like reminders to us to not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas.

By: Anthony Nash O. De Leon

Everyone’s euphoria for the coming birth of Christ is clearly uncontainable. Yuletide carols resonate from one’s ears as different establishments play them one after the other. Various houses and big edifices sparkle just to catch the attention of a passer-by. And Divisoria, Baclaran, and shopping malls seem to have endless shoppers who buy gifts to put under the Christmas tree. Yes! A few days are left before December 25 comes. A day everyone, not only in the Philippines, awaits. But besides the Philippines, there is another ‘melting pot’ that enjoys the yuletide season like the Pearl of the Orient. It is the United States of America.

Like the Philippines, USA has been considered a melting pot by many because its celebration of Christmas rooted from the celebration of different countries such as Germany, Netherlands, England, and Australia. In the case of the Philippines, its tradition during this festive celebration came from its visitors and colonizers such as Spain, China, USA, Mexico, and some others.

But does this mean that Philippines and USA celebrate Christmas in the same way? Let us see.

The Prologue and Epilogue

In the Philippines, the celebration of the yuletide season begins when the month that ends with –ber begins (specifically, September). There are many beliefs as to why Christmas in the Philippines begins in September. For some Filipinos, it starts during this month because it is the time when the temperature starts to go down and everyone freezes from the cold weather saying, brrrr….. For some, they believe that Christmas commences during this month because it is the birth month of Jesus Christ’s mother, Virgin Mary. There are also some who thinks that the four –ber months are like the four weeks celebrated during the advent season- Catholic’s preparation for Christ’s birth.

As the yuletide begins in September, the Philippines’ celebration of the yuletide season ends during the Feast of the Epiphany which is in January thus, making the Philippines, the country with the longest celebration of Christmas.

If the Philippines begins Christmas very early, US begins its Christmas weeks before December 25th, specifically, on the 4th Thursday of November after Thanksgiving Day.  

Thanksgiving Day is an important holiday for every American because it is a day in which families and friends share a meal together to give thanks for the food collected during the harvest season.

Also, most parts of America celebrate a white cold Christmas because of the winter season in which people enjoy the snow. Kids lie down a pile of snow and make snow angels, other play snowballs, and some build a snowman.

On the other hand, American Christmas ends during New Year’s Eve in which a new year begins and everyone enjoys and reminisce how they celebrated their previous year.


Stars Glimmering on Land

Have you ever tried standing at the top of a terra alta and looking below the city of Manila at night during the Christmas season? Let’s just say you will feel like a divine entity looking below a vast land filled with stars that consistently poke your eyes to glance at them and never take a blink.

Both Americans and Filipinos decorate their houses with Christmas lights before December comes. Some Christmas light glow in green, yellow, red, blue, or orange. The Christmas lights signify hope, guidance, and bliss. It also represents the Star of Bethlehem that guided the three magi to the manger where Jesus Christ was born.

Both in America and in the Philippines, there is a town that has a competition for the house that has the best Christmas lights decoration in his/her house. Many join this contest and their house would be covered all over by decorations that it would almost look like their house is Santa’s dwelling in the North Pole.

 From Pine Trees to Red and White Candy Canes

            Both the Philippines and USA are fund of decorating their houses, offices, and buildings, with Christmas decorations.

One of the symbols that represent the yuletide season is the Christmas tree. In America, they use a fresh pine tree that can be cut from forests or be bought from stores. For Americans, picking the Christmas tree is an essential part of their celebration. It is usually a time when a family enjoys choosing which tree is the best. Some choose pine trees that are very big, tall, and wide. Some prefer trees that are thin and would fit in between their door and would not reach the ceiling.

For Filipinos, fresh pine trees are unavailable, except if you are living in Baguio, which is why they use artificial trees. There are trees that have lights. There are trees that revolve. There are trees that just stand. Artificial trees are more preferable because besides being long-lasting, they are also durable and a money-saver.

Since Filipinos do not experience picking fresh pine trees, family bonding is commonly experienced during the decoration of the tree. Garlands are alternately placed on the tree’s leaves. Angels hang from one end at the top to another end in the bottom. Colorful balls shimmer and reflect the joy of the child as s/he hangs it one the Christmas tree. Candy canes seduce everyone that notices it and are calling people to take a bite out of it.

And at its top is the biggest and shiniest star that is usually put by a young lass or toddler while being carried by his/her parents.

One of the most awaited events in America is the lighting of the tree in Washington D.C. During this celebration, various celebrities from Hollywood gather to party and enjoy the lighting ceremony. It is the president who always presses the button that will ignite the lights of the tree.


Light from a Lantern

The parol or the Christmas lanterns are not very popular among many Americans. The parols are very much like to the Mexican’s piñata. However, you do not bat the parols to break it. It just hangs to bring light.

Before, parols had candles inside of it to shed light. However, due to electricity, innovation, and security, parols are now electrically lighted. 

Parols come in different sizes, colors, and shapes. It can also be made from paper, rattan, shells, wires, and a lot more. Whatever material you think is possible.

Because of the lantern’s popularity among Filipinos, a fiesta of lanterns is celebrated in Pampanga yearly. During this festival, different places from the archipelago will show off their best lanterns to win the much coveted prize. One will also see the largest and the tallest parols in the country during this festival.

Hesus Maryosep!

This is a common expression among Filipinos that came from the names of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Obviously, their images can be seen in a small scene depicting Christ’s birth, the belen.

The belen or the nativity scene is another famous decoration both among Americans and Filipinos. One will often see the images of Christ as an infant, Mary, Joseph, the three magi (Gaspar, Melchor, and Balthazar), the shepherds, the animals, and the Star of Bethlehem.

In America, the Star of Bethlehem is commonly used in the celebration of Christmas. In Alaska, a star on a pole is taken by children from door to door followed by Herod’s men who try to capture the star. It is also used by children for carolling so that they would be invited for supper inside the house.

Also, in Colorado, a large star is placed atop the mountain that can be seen kilometres away.

Sing a Song of Delight

Carollers are popular among Filipinos and Americans because both love music.

For Americans, carolling is usually done from Christmas Eve until the end of Christmas day.

For Filipinos, carolling begin as soon as the month of November begins. Like Americans, they like to sing in groups with one person playing a guitar, one with a tambourine, and another one with maracas. They usually get Php 20-100.00 per house that they sing to.

The money that they collect is usually divided among themselves for them to be able to buy a gift for their loved ones this Christmas. For some, the money goes to their organization or church to help them with their activities.

Mistletoes and Hays

            One of the decorations that are famous to the Americans but, not to the Filipinos are mistletoes. Mistletoes are green leafy decors hanged at the ceiling where it is unusually noticed. Then, when a couple is under it, they kiss. This tradition is not commonly done in the Philippines because not a lot of people agree with public display of affection.

Another tradition among Americans, especially, Polish Americans, is the act of spreading hay on the kitchen floor and beneath the tablecloth. This action would remind them of a manger and a stable in which Jesus Christ was born.

Tuloy po kayo!

            In an American state, Arizona, a tradition called Las Posadas is celebrated. This is equivalent to the Philippines’ panunuluyan.

This tradition is usually done during the Christmas Eve in which it commemorates Joseph and Mary’s venture in finding a place to stay for Mary’s birth of Jesus Christ.

In this tradition, families play the parts and visit each other’s houses and re-enact the scene of Mary and Joseph.

The Rooster’s Call

            Nine or ten days before Christmas, the Filipinos go to mass at dawn called Misa de Gallo.

The Misa de Gallo is only celebrated by the Americans during the dawn of December 25.

Unlike the Americans, Filipinos persevere and battle the cold weather and their beds just to be able to go to mass very early. Many Filipinos believe that when one completes the whole Misa de Gallo, his/her wish/es during the first mass will come true.

Misa de Gallo became very famous in the country during the Spanish era. The Filipinos still wanted to celebrate Christmas. But since the landowners didn’t want the Filipinos to stop from working, the priests decided to celebrate the mass during dawn when the sun has not yet risen in which work shall began.


The Dining Table Awaits

            Everyone cannot deny the fact that one of their most favourite and anticipated parts of Christmas is the Noche Buena, a family feast eaten after the midnight mass.

In an American table, the star of all delicacies is the roasted turkey. For Filipinos, since turkey is not a common delicacy, the ham, or the roasted or fried chicken is commonly the centrepiece. But for those who could afford, it would be the lechon that would be the star of all foods.

The Filipinos also prepare rice cakes like suman, palutang, bibingka, puto bumbong, and a lot more as their panghimagas. Americans, on the other hand, love to prepare pies, cakes, and cookies for dessert.

The Noche Buena strengthens a family’s ties and it bonds each member more to one another.


Aguinaldos and Presents

            Gift-giving is a common part of Christmas tradition. Both Filipinos and Americans place their gifts under the Christmas tree and wait until Christmas morning comes to open the gift.

During this day, children would cloth themselves up with their best and newest clothes and visit their elders. Once they get to the house, they grab the hand of the elder and mano as a sign of blessing and respect. The elderly will then give them an amount of money which is called aguinaldo.

Not How but Why…

The celebration of Christmas has transcended geographical borders. There are some Filipinos who are now living in America and the same goes for Americans in the Philippines. In fact, the Philippines has not been only the home for Americans. There are other nationalities such as Chinese, Koreans, Australians, Brazilians, Persians, and a lot more. And they enjoy celebrating it in our country as they enjoy it in their native land. Some foreigners prefer our celebration than theirs and some thinks it is such a very long occasion. But should what they think matter?

For some Filipinos, the celebration of the yuletide season in our country is better than the other countries. For some, it is the best. But for me, it is incomparable. We may have the some traditions during Christmas that is the same in other countries. There are also some that are different. But should how one celebrates Christmas matter?

For me, Christmas is not how one celebrates it. It’s why you are celebrating it.

Many have forgotten the true essence of Christmas. Some act like their still innocent children and still wait for the gifts and the aguinaldos that they will receive. Some adults think and problem the money that they will spend buying gifts and food for the Noche Buena. There also people who resort to stealing and fooling other people just to be able to enjoy the season.

Everyone should remember that Christmas exists for us not to just gain merriment from the celebration. It is there for us to remember our families, our friends, our relatives, and one another, even if we are strangers. Also, Christmas is also about remembering the values of unity, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, understanding, humility, and love. But most importantly, Christmas is about Christ’s birth in the manger in Bethlehem.

Have you ever reserved two plates for Virgin Mary and Joseph during the Noche Buena? Or have you ever tried buying a gift for Jesus Christ for his birthday? Think about it.


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Retrieved on December 11, 2011 from


Few days left, and it’s the day we’ve been all waiting for! Can you already feel the coldness or the hotness of Christmas?

Here in the Philippines, I can already feel the cold breeze of the air. As I wake up early in the morning, I could feel the chill as I go out from our house. For me, it’s already the sign that Christmas is fast approaching.

I am feeling the cold breeze of the wind.

But do you know that there’s a country down under that experiences the opposite? Yes, you read it right! If our country experiences a cold climate in this season, Australia on the other hand, experiences a sultry environment.

Christmas down under is never white unlike the other countries like the United States, and Canada. Currently in this country, it is summer and daily temperatures range from 30-40 degrees centigrade on the mainland.

Because these two countries have different climate, they also have different traditions of celebrating the holiday season.

Vacation time!

Children in the Philippines have their own way of spending their Christmas vacation. On the first to second week of December, kids are already busy with attending Christmas parties and shopping gifts for their monitos/monitas.

Most Filipinos do not pay much attention to Santa Claus unlike other countries. Because Filipinos are known to be religious, the center of the Christmas celebration is Jesus who was born here on earth to save the world. In different provinces and schools, the journey of Joseph and the pregnant Blessed Virgin Mary in search of lodging is re-enacted by children. The play is traditionally called the Panunuluyan.

Also, I remember when I was a kid, I used to come with my playmates and go from house to house singing Christmas carols or pangangaroling on cold breezy nights.  We make our own tambourines made with tansans or aluminum bottle caps strung on a piece of wire. We often start our caroling in the last week of November.

Meanwhile, Christmas is also special to most of the Australians for it is a summer holiday season, and children especially are wrapping up their school year. That means, they are just waiting for their grades to be released, as well as getting ready for Christmas.

I remember my cousin Amber, who lives there, saying that majority of Australian kids spend their holiday vacation by playing under the heat of the sun, surfing on the cool waves of the sea, and shopping lots of gifts for their family and friends . She also shared that at their own homes, many of the traditional Christmas rituals are being followed. Decorations are being bought and set up. Christmas stockings are being hung in homes,  letters are being written to Santa Claus, family Christmas tree are being decorated, and  Christmas carols are being sung at festive occasions such as public “Carols by Candlelight” and school concerts.

Traditional Foods

This season is also a time for the family to get together and cook special meals.

Because it’s a summer season for the Australians, traditional dinners have been replaced with family gatherings in back yards, picnics in parks, gardens and on the beach. According to my cousin, it is the occasion to be with friends and relatives, to share love and friendship and not to forget, the exchange of gifts.

For many, it is a time to enjoy and consume various kinds of Christmas food. Most families try to be home for Christmas and the main meal is eaten at lunch time. Their typical menu could include seafood, glazed ham, cold chicken, duck or turkey, cold deli meats, pasta, salads galore, desserts of all types, fruit salad, pavlovas, ice-cream plus Christmas edibles of all varieties such as mince pies, fruit cake, shortbread, and chocolates etc.

Pinoys have traditional foods too! These Christmas dishes are usually served during Christmas Eve (Noche Buena), Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve (Medya Noche). The food that will never be gone on our tables are bibingka, roasted or fried chicken, tinola, litson, puto bungbong, queso de bola, sweet ham, and many more.

Celebrating Christmas!

Since it is summer in Australia, Most town and cities conduct festivals and parades. Some places like local parks have fireworks display for families to watch and enjoy.

Christmas will begin with families attending a midnight mass. After the mass, a little sleep is attempted. For many, the children in various households wake up the family at dawn. Gifts are unwrapped and the joy of Christmas begins. For many with relatives and friends overseas, it is a mad scramble to get an early phone call to relatives worldwide.

In addition, many towns, cities and schools hold their own Carols by Candlelight services. As it is the middle of summer, the words to the carols about snow and the cold winter are sometimes changed to special Australian words.

Right after the Christmas day, Australia has a shopping day called the Boxing Day.It is a time where shops have sales, often with dramatic price decreases. For many merchants, Boxing Day has become the day of the year with the greatest revenue.

Philippines, on the other hand, is different. Its celebration of Christmas begins on the 16th of December where the Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi is happening, followed by the Noche Buena on Christmas eve, Misa de Aguinaldo on Christmas day, Medya Noche on New Year’s eve and ends on the first Sunday of January which is the Feast of the Epiphany or the Three Kings. It is quite different from the other countries. 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.

Truly, it’s Christmas at its best! The spirit of Christmas will always be in everyone’s hearts, whether the season is hot or cold. Two nations which may have the same or different way of celebrating the yuletide season, yet with one reason of celebration – the birth of our savior Jesus.

Photos retrieved from:,r:2,s:0,r:2,s:0&tx=47&ty=73,r:6,s:0,r:9,s:10,r:8,s:22,r:0,s:10


“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,

Just like the ones I used to know

Where the treetops glisten and children listen

To hear sleigh bells in the snow..”

When I was young, a perfect Christmas for me would be a White Christmas, where in I could play with snowballs, build the frosty snow man, and wait for the sleigh of Santa Claus to deliver the Christmas gifts under our mistletoe. But many Christmas have passed, I’ve never even experienced one of these things. And I just realized that yes, it is possible for some countries like, USA, but here in Philippines, White Christmas would just be a flight of the imagination.

Well, my wildest dream for a White Christmas here in our country have changed, as I became familiarize with the traditions that mostly Filipinos are fun of doing during this Yuletide Season. We are the longest, and absolutely, the merriest Christmas Celebration around the world.

Usually, when the “BER” months enter, you could already see houses that were surrounded by shining and shimmering Christmas lights, with giant star lanterns hung outside the houses.  It is our tradition to have what we called “Parol” during Christmas, because we believed that it symbolizes as the guiding light when our Jesus Christ was born.

We also have what we called “Simbang Gabi”, it happens during the 16th of December, and ends on the Christmas Eve, December 24. It is a series of masses for 9 dawns. If you complete all the 9 masses, they said that whatever you will wish for, will be granted.  

Also, in “Simbang Gabi”, who would ever forget to eat these two native holiday treats? The Puto bumbong, and Bibingka, it could be found in different stalls for the Church goers every Simbang Gabi.

Puto Bumbong is made up of glutinous rice called Pirurutong, it is topped with butter, fresh coconut shreds, and cane sugar. On the other hand, Bibingka, is a rice cake made from glutinous rice, egg, and water topped with salty eggs, and cheese.

Another habit of Filipinos, which I considered now as a part of Tradition during Christmas, is shopping. Yes, shopping, during this season we might have money or zero balance in our ATM accounts, but we would still find ways to buy gifts to our loved ones. We go on Sales, or the most convenient place to go for to save the day, to visit the land of Divisoria. There, we could find 3 for 100 t-shirts, 10- 20 pesos for toys, 50 pesos for flip flops and 2 for 150 for couple shirts. Like what they’ve said, “It’s the thought that counts.”, and what important is we practice the art of sharing/giving most especially during Christmas.

Another, Christmas won’t be the same without asking  “Ano ang ihahanda natin?” . Because Philippines is known as the “Land of Fiestas”, that’s why during Christmas Eve we have Noche Buena, it is a traditional feast where family usually gathers at 12 midnight to dine together.

In Noche Buena, the most popular dishes to be served are morcon, embutido, relyenong bangus, lumpia, pansit, and the famous “lechon”.  Aside from that, there is always ham on the table, but it is usually eaten during Christmas Day.

However, Noche Buena is not always about foods, and cholesterol. But it is about the Filipino family close ties, and the family tradition.

On the 25th of December, the exact date of Christmas Day, the toddlers usually visit their God Parents for their Aguinaldos, it is a money or a gift given for their God Children during Christmas. Moreover, this is also the day for a family to have a strong bond, to meet the extended families, to have a reunion, and the likes. But most of all, this is also the day to celebrate the birthday of our Savior, Lord Jesus Christ.

This is how Filipinos celebrate Christmas on a splendid tropical climate; let’s try to invade the celebration of the Americans, who have a broad range of weather, and already experienced my dream of an Oh-so-White Christmas.

Christmas in United States is a mixture of different cultures coming from England and Australia for Christmas Carols, Christmas trees from Germany, Santa Claus from Europe, and parades from Latin America.

Just like in Philippines, Streets and houses are decorated with Christmas trees and colorful Christmas lights. They also put statues of Santa Claus, Snowman, or Reindeers in front of their houses.

In New York, they have small town called “North Pole”, it is designed for Santa Claus and his reindeers. There’s a post office where in children could write letters, and ask Santa Claus the gifts they want to receive in Christmas Day.

Katruz Shannen Albano, 17, a friend of mine, migrated in US last October 2010. This year would be her second time to celebrate Christmas in US, the first Christmas according to her is not that happy compared to the Christmas here in Philippines.

“ Masasabi kong hindi naman talaga kasing saya ng pasko sa pilipinas iyong pasko dito sa Amerika. Totoo pala yung sinasabi nila na Iba pa rin talaga yung Paskong Pinoy,” She said.

She also added that even though Christmas in US is considered as holiday, people would still prefer to go to work because of Double pay, unlike in Philippines, because we love to extend our vacation in work just to spend more quality time with family. She also said that Thanks Giving in US is more important for the Americans compared to Christmas, because during Thanks Giving, there a lot of clothes, shoes, gadgets, and etc. that are on SALE.

Moreover, she said that the main dish of their Noche Buena in US is Turkey and ham, because it is said to be a Christmas Tradition in US.

When asked if her 1st Christmas in US is a White Christmas, she said “Last year, mga bandang November 16 pa lang nag ssnow na, hangang mag pasko yun. Naranasan kong maglaro ng snow, gumawa ng snowman, na hindi ko naman naransan sa Pilipinas.”

She said that she is too excited to spend her 1st Christmas in US because of White Christmas. But when she already experienced Christmas in other country, she felt sad, and longing to go back in Philippines to eat her favorite Bibingka, to go to Simbang Gabi with his barkadas, and also, to feel the belongingness. “Malungkot kasi parang kami lang yung nagsasaya dito, yung paligid namin tahimik lang, hindi tulad sa Pinas. Madaming Christmas Party, mga inuman, yung mga ganun talaga yung sobrang nakaka-miss,” she ended.

Having a Plain Christmas, I mean no snow, and no more dreaming of a White Christmas, just the typical Christmas in Philippines is much better. Because in here, you will feel the true meaning of Christmas that cannot be felt in other countries. Many  of our OFWs are dying to fly back to the Philippines because they want to celebrate Christmas here with their families.

White, Asia,  Spanish or whatever kinds of Christmas it will be. Filipino Christmas will always be in our hearts.


It was five o’clock in the morning, still dark outside and all were still sleepy head, drowned in their dreams with their

cushy and warm beds, when suddenly a ‘click’ was heard and a banging music started to air… “Kay sigla ng gabi , ang lahat ay kay saya. Nagluto ang ate ng manok at tinola…”

LANTERN'S RAMP. Colorful and dazzling lanterns displayed on the street sides of San Fernado Pampanga.

And everyone was disturbed.

It was November and yet our neighbors tend to be the alarm clock of our barangay as they played Christmas songs every wee time, around 3-5 hours every day. And I couldn’t help but be annoyed. In our home where people have a hereditary insomnia, most probably we’ll not be waking up eagerly just to happily sing along with those songs.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m neither a Grinch nor a naysayer of Christmas. It’s just so unbelievable why most of us do exaggerate the celebration of Christmas. From the cumbancheros a.k.a. the carolers who will knock doors of neighbors after neighbors even as early as September, to the parols and other Christmas decorations hang on the street sides and inside each Filipino homes (although there’s an increase in electric bill charges), it seems so improbable for a belief that behind poverty as our mainstay backdrop, we still got to avail a sumptuous Christmas, by hook or by crook. Even budget is saying a ‘no’ it still a choice of yes or yes.


And I found out who is to be blame for this: the Spaniards.

THE CUMBANCHEROS A.K.A. CAROLERS. A traditional way of celebrating Filipino christmas.

A rewind from the past, it was noted that during the second half of the 19th century, Filipino lives were just revolving and carried away by the beliefs of the church which was dominated by the Dominicans at that time, making our country then tagged as ‘amoy-simbahan society’ as they devote their almost every day doing religious stuff. With this, there was no chance for them to have mental activities, leaving their brain cells stagnant and rusty. The tendency which most likely happened was the dependency of the Filipinos to superstitious beliefs even if there were no basis for it.

And apparently, marks of the past remain as Filipino still practiced most of them. And the festive way of celebrating Christmas for example is only one of those. The family bonding, the feeling of excitement every time you open a gift under the improvised Christmas tree, the contagious happiness of cheering for a good life with the tune of “Pasko ay Sumapit’, eating the noche Buena at exactly 12 midnight with prepared special foods that are so rare to see in the daily meal; all of these are just part of the Filipino culture that we couldn’t somehow erase to ourselves, influenced by our past. However, the decision on whether to stick with these traditions or not still depends on us as our persistence is somehow betrayed whenever we see our neighbors have their  liston grilled on their backyard and the 20 christmas lights embedded on their veranda.


WESTERN INFLUENCES                                

SIMBANG GABI. One of the ways of celebrating Christmas as well an opportunity for others to date.

White Christmas. One of the biggest fans of this would probably be a Filipino. Despite the fact that even a snow flake could not make it to the Philippines, we are still hoping to have one because of our great admiration to have snowmen on our front door, to the big socks hang on the chimney hoping someone will full it of gifts, to their pine trees with that sweet smell and of course, the fictitious Santa Claus who is a viral all over the world, making him forged everywhere.

Although in US, people there don’t delve so much of their time in celebrating Christmas. They do decorate their houses and gather their family for a dinner but they still have works during the season. Here in the Philippines, we have a looooooong vacation for Christmas, extended up to New Year, like two weeks or so, while compared to west, they even have to go their offices during the Christmas day, considering it as a special day, yet a day for work.

The attitude we have to relax and enjoy the season seems to be the triggering factor why the indolence still got room in

FILIPINO'S CHRISTMAS DREAM. We're longing for it here in our country though it's far from reality.

our system, something that our national hero, Rizal had noticed to us. Public or private schools start their individual Christmas parties as early as the second week of December, letting their students do the planning for the party and scheduling major exams next year (a very nice way of ending the year) making them feel sluggish even as they go back the next year. Instead of a renewed faith and vow to school, they tend to demand for an extension of vacation, becoming so use to the ‘petiks mode.’ And it’s not a good sign.


Behind the twinkling and blinking lights of the different sizes of lanterns on the streets, the Christmas bonus which will be splurged at once just so to say that we’ll have Christmas (a traditional yardstick of Filipino as to who are those who haves and have nots), those who are attending/ dating on the Simabang Gabi or Misa de Gallo who somehow altering the real purpose of it, and the perspective we have that the more we accumulate, the more we have that new stuff to brag, the more we will be happy for ourselves; we are missing the actual thing to be celebrated. Are we getting narrower?

How come we depend the essence of Christmas to ourselves when it fact it’s not all about us? How come we’ve been so inundated with the material things that we are devouring to have when at the first place, it’s not the real deal? Have you ever tried to observe why most of us think of our own sake while forgetting why we have Christmas?

Go back, review.

THE REAL REASON. Let's go back to the real purpose of Christmas, and that is celebrating it with all the glory to Jesus Christ.

Christmas is about the point in our lives we need to celebrate in deem and be thankful for the reason of our emancipation to sin. That baby in the manger is a need of persons who will let him in to their hearts just like what his parents did then before, but no one did. Are you going to do the same thing?

This Christmas, be different.



(DEC 13, 2011/ TUESDAY/9:49PM),4&docid=raqZSPIS1HUThM&imgurl=,r:13,s:0&tx=73&ty=89,r:0,s:0,r:8,s:0,r:10,s:0,r:5,s:0.

Month of December photo courtesy of Google pics

It was the first week of December when Angeline was helping her mom to put Christmas decorations at home. She and her mom built their eight feet Christmas three (with various decorations such as Christmas balls and a long strand of red ribbon) and placed it behind their sofa at their living room and lately they hang three medium size parols at center of their huge French windows. They also put Christmas lights afterwards at their veranda (terrace) and then they turn it on. Angeline-an eleven year old girl-and her family has always done this Christmas decoration habit as every Filipino family do.

As the climate gets colder-which you have to ware thick clothes at night and also in break of dawn- and while most people are busy in going to shopping malls to buy some stuff for gift-giving, Angeline was also busy in thinking about what could be his father’s Christmas gift to her. Her Father who is been working in Saudi Arabia as a driver in a huge shipping company in three consecutive years has missed the ambiance, happenings and spirit of Christmas at his beloved country. He was expected to arrive home soon from Saudi at that time. The young and sweet little chubby girl Angeline wonders how many days long before her father would come home. After minutes of wondering, Angeline fell asleep on the mat, maybe due to the Christmas song (various songs of Jose Mari Chan and Leo Salonga) that her mother has played on the stereo.

Simbang gabi photo courtesy of Google pics

It’s the 16 day for the last month of the year and Angeline was excited to go in the pre-dawn mass. Her mom told her that she will awake her around three in the morning so that they could attend the mass. Angeline who was ready to take asleep has suddenly remembered the time when she with her mom and dad has attended simbang gabi. She remembered that after the mass, they ate a couple bibingka at some puto bumbong. She fell asleep after she prayed that her dad would safely arrive at home before Christmas.

December 23, a few days later. Angeline’s dad has finally arrived at home. Angeline has finally felt the warmth love of her father. “Oh I really miss you daddy.” Angeline said while being embraced by him. “I ‘am very happy to be here Angeline. There is no other place in the word that could celebrate the merriest Christmas but this home, here at Philippines,” he said. Her dad elaborated to her that it is hard to celebrate Christmas abroad – particularly in Saudi.  He said that Christmas celebration there is forbidden. Buying or building a Christmas three would cause him punishments against authorities. Christmas lights, memorabilia’s and other decorations will also do the same consequence. But her father told her that they have somehow (with his companion) managed to celebrate Christmas in a difficult way. He said that he and his companions have to go out of the main city to be afar from local policemen but still be watchful of them. There, they built tents to conduct parties such a little feast. They exchanged gifts, sang Christmas carols, drank some beer and wine, and ate some delicacies such as ham. Her father end his Christmas experienced abroad by telling Angeline that what matter is they tried and still manage celebrate Christmas even if they are in state of difficulty. After their conversation, they had dinner with ham and bread for that night.

Photo courtesy of Google pics

Christmas day! Angeline was very happy at last because her family was finally complete at this special moment of her life. There is really no happiest day formost children than this. Angeline was happy to visit her godparents and to receive the blessings and gifts that they had given her. She was delight when she receives a talking doll given by one of her godmother. Later of that day, they went to cinema to watch the annual film festival. She had fun watching Enteng Kabisote while eating popcorns. Afterwards they went to a carnival where they ride carousel, bump cars and played video games. Angeline had a great time on that day. She was thankful to the One that granted her wish.

As the Christmas day pass and the new years have just arrived, her dad that told her that he has to go back abroad. But her dad promised to her that next year after his contract end in Saudi, he will came back at the first week of December and then he will brought her with her mom to France to celebrate Christmas there. He said to her that France celebrates Christmas as Filipinos do. He said that she will also see some different kinds of belen – that is made of figurines which they called santons. There, she will also taste some delicacies that are seasoned to eat during Christmas such as bûche de Noël and Galette des Rois, and there they will also attend midnight mass.

On the day of her dad departure (at the airport), Angeline asked her dad one strange question. She asks him of what country that he would prefer to celebrate Christmas? Her dad answer with no hesitation that it is his native land (Philippines) that he will still prefer. He said that we will just visit the other countries but this place will always be first in my heart and yours.

Photo courtesy of Google pics

“Farewell my beautiful and beloved daughter. Keep on praying with your mom, and I will keep promise to be with you in the next Christmas. Goodbye honey,” her dad expressed with tears of joy.

There is so much to talk about when we say Christmas in the Philippines, not just because Christmas is indeed a very especial occasion to us but because our country is predominantly Christian and the most Christianize country inAsia. A vibrant Muslim community might be seen in southern Mindanao but over all, the spirit Christianity is the one that reigns in our country. the birthday of Jesus is also being celebrated by other countries but no country in Asia celebrates Christmas as festive as we do. And to further realize how especial our Christmas and to know how it is being celebrated across different cultures, let us take a little travel among Asian countries and find out their way of rejoicing Christmas!

SOUTH KOREA – “Sung Tan Chuk Ha” (Merry Christmas)


Korea is primarily a Buddhist country but around 25 percent of its population are Christians. Christmas is an official holiday inKorea,

but less fanfare and presents can be seen. They also decorate their churches with brilliant lights. However, since almost 75 percent  of population are Buddhist, Christmas is not a very important occasion to them. They also exchange gifts and the most popular gift in Korea is money. They are fond of giving money in any kind of occasion. Santa is also popular in Korea but with a name of Santa Grandfather!who usually wears blue.

When it comes to food, Many Koreans goes out to different restaurants. Food outlets are busy on Christmas, as it is considered a romantic  holiday for couples, and theme parks and shows have special Christmas events-( On the other hand, Christmas perceives as a special shopping day for non- Christians.


VIETNAM – “Chúc Mừng Giáng Sinh”! (Merry Christmas)

Around seven percent of the populations ofVietnamare Catholics and a vibrant festivities particularly in its largest city Ho chi minh can be observed.

Christmas is one of the four most important festivals of the Vietnamese year, including the birthday of Buddha, the New Year and the Mid-autumn Festival.

Although the  Christians observed the religious rituals of Christmas,(

Christmas inVietnamis a big event, especially inHo Chi Minh City, Vietnamese celebrate Christmas almost the same as Filipinos, Christians attend

Midnight mass on Christmas Eve and return home to a deluxe Christmas dinner. If Filipinos have Keso de bola, hamon and lechon Vietnamese have

chicken soup while wealthier people eat turkey and Christmas pudding.


INDIA“Bade Din Ki Mubarak”  (Merry Christmas)

Christianity is India’s third-largest religion, with a around 25 million christians, constituting 2.3% of India’s population.

   Christmas in India is not a special event with barely three percent population of       Christians, Christmas is definitely not a big deal. People in India have rarely  Christmas tree for decoration. A Banana or Mango tree is used to decorate their houses. Every Christian family always makes sure to have a stock of sweets to serve for their visitors during Christmas season. Indians also love parties, they love dancing, eating and drinking during Christmas, they usually party ate hotels and restaurants.

Here, their Father Christmas or Santa Claus delivers gifts to children from a horse and cart. He’s known as ‘Christmas Baba’ in Hindi, ‘Baba Christmas'(


JAPAN-Merii Kurisumasu”(Merry Christmas)

Christmas inJapanis different from other countries which have a large number of Christian community Christmas. Only 1/2 of 1% of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian, with the majority of Japanese being tolerant of all faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, Shinto, etc. In spite of this, the Japanese are great lovers of festivals and celebrations, including Christmas (Billy Hammond, Christmas inJapan)

Here, Christmas  is not an official holiday it is only celebrated as a commercial and secular festival, For  less than one percent of Christians in Japan Christmas is a  time for Christmas lights[7] and Santa Claus, parties, gift exchanges, and eating things like Christmas cake (a Japanese creation) rather than a religious occasion. Eating Christmas cakes is a Japanese way to celebrate Christmas . You can find a wide variety of attractive Christmas cakes at stores. Christmas Eve has also become a night for couples to go out and spend a romantic time together at fancy restaurants or hotels inJapan.


Whether we are in recession or in progress, Christmas in our country is always merry! Iin other countries, Christmas is might not that special but for us Filipinos this is not just a simple event. Christmas means a lot for Filipinos, it is the mother of all occasion, it is the time for family reunions, time for giving and sharing, time for savoring foods and time for joy and peace.

Merry Christmas to ALL!!


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is one of the widely celebrated holidays and truly the longest celebration in the Philippines. As soon as the month ending with “ber” rolls around, preparations for Christmas begins. Since many believe that it’s a time for family, for sharing, for food, fun, and friendship, it’s already a tradition to enjoy this season with your loved ones.           

            By the way, Christmas is not a rare thing. It might be awkward to say that you don’t know what’s going on about this familiar thing, for this is celebrated by 1/3 of people across the globe and considered as the most anticipated fiesta of the year.

"Simbang Gabi"

"Simbang Gabi"

Celebrated every 25thof December, Christmas in the first place is identified as the birth date of the holy child, Jesus Christ. Like in the Philippines which is a tropical country, Filipinos absolutely enjoy Christmas holidays even though there are no snow flakes falling from within as what winter does in the West. While in Italy, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated before people learn Christmas. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could join in the fun. Until in fourth century when church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday and Pope Julius I chose December 25 as its celebration date. Italians believe that their Christmas was original and historical. But Filipinos are proud to proclaim that their Christmas celebration is the longest and merriest in the world. The point is that what ever the climate of a country and how beautiful its nature is, as long as warm-hearted people with their true devotion to family and faith signifies the true meaning of Christmas. No matter what religion you believe, what tradition you practice in celebrating this event and wherever you are, still each one should respect one another’s conviction beyond the deep understanding of what Christmas really is.

Italian Christmas

Italian Christmas

            Therefore, let’s not waste time. Listed below are the ways of how Filipinos and Italians celebrate their Christmas.

Christmas Decors

            Yes! In the Philippines, Christmas would be meaningless without the traditional symbols and decorations. Filipinos make beautiful and colorful Christmas decorations along their houses, as if a competition is presently going on between them and their remote neighbors. Star lantern made of bamboo is the most common décor you could see in every Filipino home. As a symbol of Christmas, it represents the guiding light and the star in Bethlehem. Filipinos really enjoy decorating their homes not only with star lanterns but also with all sorts of Christmas decors. A Christmas tree usually placed at the center of the living room, strung with multicolored lights while humming a famous jingle tune, is also an adornment during the celebration, together with a belen which is a tableau representing the Nativity scene. There are also alluring Christmas cards, pinned on red and green ribbons, hung inside the house or displayed under the Christmas tree.

Meanwhile, one of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in Italy

Nativity Scene

Nativity Scene

is having a decoration of Nativity crib scene. It’s actually the Italian version of Filipino’s belen and it’s in the city of Naples where cribs and crib making are world famous. The Nativity scene is one of the most beloved and enduring symbols of Christmas in Italy.  Creating the Nativity scene during Christmas essentially originated in Italy and is now a popular custom not only in the said country but also in many other parts of the world. Legend has it that, St. Francis of Assisi once asked Giovanni Vellita, a villager of Greccio, to create a manger scene. Giovanni made a very beautiful Nativity scene and before this St. Francis performed a mass. Thereafter, the creation of the figures or pastori became a very popular genre of folk art. Moreover, Nativity scene is known as Presepe Napoletano which means Neapolitan Cribs. Cribs are traditionally put out on the 8th of December. But the figure of the baby Jesus isn’t put into the crib until the evening of December 24. Naples is also the home of the largest crib scene in the world, which has over 600 objects on it. There include not only the usual characters and figures in the Christmas story but also the figures of commoners in an actual community such as politicians, teachers, engineers, and so on.

Christmas Traditions

             Christmas in the Philippines formally begins on December 16 with attendance at the first of nine pre-dawn or early morning masses and continues on nonstop until the first Sunday of January, and the Feast of the Three Kings that officially ends the season.

            Filipino Christmas is a mixture of Western and native Filipino traditions. Knowing Santa Claus, sending Christmas cards, and singing carols came from the cultures of the West to fit with the nature and personality of every Filipinos. One of the Filipino traditions is the Christmas Novena or Simbang Gabi. It is a nine-day celebration before the Christmas Day. Literally, simbang gabi means ‘night worship.’ Catholic churches throughout the country will be ringing bells around 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning long before the rooster’s crow, to send message of hope in God and of peace on earth. Whatever others perception to this celebration, it is only a modicum of reflection and allows everyone to gain insight into the deeper meaning of Christmas.

            In Italy, the Christmas traditions are based heavily on the religion of Christianity. The opening of the Holy season is announced by the sound of cannon firing of Saint Angelo in Rome. Eight days before Christmas, a special service of prayers and church worship begin which ends on Christmas Day. This special service is known as Novena, a Roman Catholic worship service consisting of prayers on nine consecutive days. During this period, children dressed as shepherds, playing pipes, go from house to house reciting Christmas poems and singing Christmas carols. Usually, money is given to these children right after their performance and small presents are drawn from the Urn of Fate. On Christmas Day, the pope gives his blessing to crowds gathered in the huge Vatican square. Present there are families clothed with their new pair of shoes, and shining jewelries. Furthermore, Italian children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. Traditionally, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch whom they named Befana on a broomstick. This is the Italian version of Santa Claus. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born, but she was busy and delayed visiting the baby at that time. And so what she did was she never stops searching for the baby and always leaves presents at every house with children in case the holy child is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good children and she leaves coals for the bad ones.

Christmas Foods

            Another tradition performed in a Filipino home during holidays is the Christmas Eve. As its name implies, it is a midnight exactly dated every 24th of December without sleep and a continuous celebration moving right into Christmas Day. After the last mass of simbang gabi, a family feast called Noche Buena is immediately followed. Foods are served usually in buffet style which includes lechon baboy, queso de bola, hamon, pancit, fried chicken, chocolates, fruit salads, and so on. Drinks such as teas, juices, wines, and other alcoholic liquors, are also served ice-cold on the buffet table. Friends, relatives, neighbors, and visitors, dined of the food prepared by the host family while dropping a wish to every family member “Merry Christmas!” This gathering not only provides an opportunity for a reunion of immediate and family distant family members but also to share love among people with same beliefs. Some families may choose to exchange gifts at this time while others preferred to wait until Christmas Day. There are also families who have a talent show during Christmas Eve celebration. Children who standout best after asked to perform in the spotlight will be rewarded tokens from their rich relatives.

             A strict feast is observed for 24 hours before Christmas Eve in Italy, and is followed by a celebration meal, in which a light Milanese cake called panettone features is served as well as chocolate. Another famous cake is Pandoro, a soft golden colored variety which originated in Verona. During the Christmas Eve, a traditional dish of eel is also served hot on the table for they believe that the fish brings peace and good luck to the family.  Though the menu varies from region to region, the first course of a Christmas feast is Lasagna, Cannelloni or a timbale of pasta. Mixed roast or roast beef form the main item for the second course. These are served with various types of cheeses, fruits (dried and otherwise) and lots of sweets, all soaked in a good quality red or white wine. Grappa, Whiskey and other hard liquors are also served during the feast. A Tortellini in Brodo which is filled with pasta parcels in broth is the common dish during Christmas Day lunch.

Buon Natale

            Christmas Day in Filipino and Italian styles is really a popular day not only for colorful decorations, delicious foods served, precious gifts shared, and paid visits by children to their godparents, but also a day of family closeness which everyone wishes good cheers and glad tidings at each other. Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!    


Retrieved from on December 10, 2011.

Retrieved from on December 10, 2011.
Retrieved from on December 10, 2011.

Retrieved from on December 10, 2011.

Retrieved from on December 10, 2011.

Retrieved from on December 10, 2011.

Retrieved from on December 10, 2011.


When does it really start? In school, Christmas is felt towards the middle part of December when exams/quizzes are ending and students plan about parties. When I was working at a shopping mall, the first hints of Christmas spring up in September!

The celebration of Christmas in the Philippines is quite different from other countries, especially in non-Christian areas. Due to our religion, we celebrate the holiday in a super grand way!

Christmas is the longest of the Philippine festivities stretching for over a month, or it really depends on when a Filipino feels to start or end it. This makes the Filipino Christmas celebration perhaps the longest Christmas season in the world.

So, what makes the Filipino Christmas unique? Filipinos have a lot of Christmas tradition which makes us different from the others, here are some of them.










The Pinoy Parols.Main decoration symbol in other countries is a Christmas tree. In the Philippines, you see Christmas Parols in almost every corner of the street. Parol is a traditional Filipino Christmas decoration, a five point star-shaped Christmas lantern that reminds Filipinos of the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men on their way in search of Baby Jesus.


Beautiful Christmas songs only Pinoys can sing. Lea Salonga, Gary V, Martin Nievera, Sarah Geronimo, Jed Madela, are just a few of Filipino singers who can truly satisfy Filipinos on Christmas songs.

Bibingka and PutoBumbong – they are true Pinoy delicacies specially prepared during the season. They would often be served on banana leaves topped with butter or margarine and grated coconut meat.


Simbang Gabi. Starting December 16, a large portion of the population would flock to attend Mass at their local Catholic congregation. This Christmas tradition is called Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi. It translates to Masses at Cock’s Crow which is held usually early in

the morning.

Kids Street Caroling. Although sometimes annoying because they would repeatedly go back to your house, there is no other place in the world one can experience this Christmas caroling.


So, there, Christmas in the Philippines is just an amazing experience. It is that magical time of year when everything just falls into place.I have seen a glimpse of Christmas in Hong Kong and it is no where near to what I know of Christmas celebration the Pinoy way.


For me, there is no place else to celebrate Christmas but home.














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               “Christmas won’t be the same without you. Christmas won’t be the same if you go. All I need to see standing by my Christmas tree (is you). Christmas won’t be the same without you.” This is a very heartwarming Christmas song which I always remember during celebration of Christmas. Going to mass for 9 evenings to complete the Simbang Gabi or Evening Mass, eating the all-time favorite in this time of season; puto bumbong and bibingka, and how can we ever forget giving gifts or money to our nephews and nieces most especially to our godchildren singing Christmas carols to impress us and somehow brings fun and happiness to the celebration. These are what every Filipino misses when they go miles away from the country.

            Celebrating Christmas in Philippines is very incomparable according to my relatives and friends working and living abroad. Christmas season is one of the biggest and extravagant season celebrations in the Philippines besides New Year. Everyone in the family is present for the celebration; bringing potlucks and having the very memorable family picture. But how does the Philippine Christmas differ from other Christmas celebration. I’ve interviewed my friends and relatives abroad on how they celebrate Christmas on the country they live in.

          Ms. Tanya Lianza, 46, my former High school teacher shares her story as she spends her Christmas in Elkhart, Kansas. “There is no comparison. The Philippine celebration of Christmas is the best. We celebrate it for the longest time (from September to the 1st week of January or the three kings as commonly known to Filipinos). Here in Kansas, Christmas is not celebrated as grand as the way they celebrate Thanksgiving, which is how we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines. In Kansas City, Christmas is celebrated as a holiday but it is just like an ordinary day. People here tend to make a feast during Thanksgiving but not Christmas. In the Philippines you can really feel Christmas in the air when the month starts to end with ‘ber’. You can hear Christmas songs in the airwaves as early as September. Here it is already November and I haven’t heard one Christmas song. There is no “Simbang Gabi” & “Caroling” or I just haven’t experience it yet, except for the Simbang Gabi I attended when I was in Arizona because we had a Filipino priest there who initiated the mass. And last what I miss most about the Philippine Christmas is the bibingka and puto bumbong.”

          Ma. Theresa Azores, 27, former classmate in High school looks back as she presently lives and work in Dubai. “Paskong Pinoy sa Pinas walang katulad. Dubai has its own version of Pasko but still I have never ever felt it the way it is felt pag nasa Pinas ka. Yes, I know some Pinoy who already put up their Christmas tree but no one told me nor expressed to me their excitement. Not even mga Batang Pinoy. I thought, it is now becoming just a trend instead of a celebrated gathering. Hindi lahat ng Pinoy nakakapag-celebrate ng Pasko lalo na kapag nasa Middle East ka, swerte lang ang mga Pinoy sa Dubai because they have their liberty to celebrate it, mga Pinoy kapag Pasko dito may 2 days Paid Leave and UAE government honor it. I have not celebrated Pasko for over 5 years now, I am a Muslim. But, somehow, nakaka-miss ang nakagawian at kinalakihan mong Simbang Gabi, Puto bumbong, Bibingka, Caroling, Christmas Eve Dinner at marami pang iba. I might not wish you a “Merry Christmas” but surely I will say “Enjoy the Holiday”. At any given chances, I greet back and smile when I am greeted “maligayang pasko kabayan”, because as much as Catholic respects Islam, I do highly respect the tradition where I am from.”


          Bernard Mejia, 28, a fellow Rotaractor express his sentiments as he lives and work presently in Dubai. “Christmas in the Philippines is the best of them all even if we don’t have snow cones nor paid leaves. In addition to which in Philippines we were celebrating the event full heartedly kahit na wala tayong maraming pera or handa sa noche buena the thought that everybody is going to wake up at 12am and greet each other a happy season greetings is incomparable, even if we were trying to call all our relatives from afar even if it’s very hard to get in touch with them from 11pm to 5am, kahit delay messages sige pa din ang text.”




          Nadia Vinegas, 27, former classmate in High School and a colleague shares her story. “I have been living and working in Singapore from 2008 till now and since then I have been celebrating- both Christmas and New Year here. Its incomparable celebrating Christmas in Philippines and here, although you’ll see a lot of Christmas decorations everywhere, the excitement and happiness you’ll feel is totally different. In Philippines, you already look forward to Christmas when September comes in – anticipating 13 month pay – Christmas shopping- get together with Family, Christmas party etc. But it’s not the same here- multicultural kasi ang Singapore. They have Malays (Muslim), Indian (Hindu), and Chinese (Buddhist, Christian, Taoist and sama mo na mga free thinker or no beliefs) so kahit September na najn un Deepavali to Celebrate for Indians, yung Hari Raya Puasa for Muslims- yung Thanksgiving sa western then Christmas!

I haven’t celebrated Christmas Like I used to while still living in Manila- I haven’t been with my family for Christmas and New Year or Celebrated Company Christmas party or having Christmas groceries or free ham from the company.

Christmas in Singapore is celebrated by Christian Populations only but it’s more of just having a so Called Christmas “LOG CAKE” and Christmas HAM and Church visit on the evening then after Christmas prayer, tulugan na.

Very equal ang treatment ng government ng Singapore sa lahat including immigrants like the Filipino Community we can have SIMBANG GABI here, pero literal na gabi its 7 in the evening- starting December 15- iba’t-ibang church nagsponsor then may libre lugaw afterwards prepared by Filipino Organizers – meron din kaming tagalog mass every 4th Sunday of the month- depending on the churches schedule so between December 15  to 24 alam na- punong puno ang Church at Bus at halos magkastampede na sa dami ng nagsisimbang gabi.

Yung mga Filipino lang nagsasaya at nagiingay dito kapag Christmas at New Year un mga DH nasa Orchard nagsasayawan sila dun – halo halo- Korean Community- Japanese Community- Myanmar community etc., nagkikita-kita sa orchard at dun ngcecelebrate

Kapag me nagsumbong sa pulis na maingay- alam na Filipino Friends and Family nagkakaraoke! Kapag New Year naman kelangan ng permit para magpaputok kaya nanuod na lang kami ng TV para sa countdown.

Mas Masaya talaga sa Pilipinas as in!”


          Billy Rey Caballero, 27, former classmate in High school who works and lives presently in Singapore expressed his desire in celebrating Christmas. “2 years ako sa Dubai pero di ko naramdaman ang Christmas dun kasi iba ang culture and religion. Sa Company ko, hindi holiday ang Christmas kaya kaylangan magwork. Although, mas open city ang Dubai unlike other cities and countries in the Middle East kaya kahit papaano may mga Christmas decoration pa rin sa mga mall at my church mass. Mga Filipino co-worker lang kasama mong magcecelebrate ng Christmas at new year.

Ngayon nasa Singapore nako, 1st year ko pa lang dito, mas open kaysa sa Dubai at mas maraming Christian. Pero di ko pa rin maramdamn na parating na pala ang Pasko.

There’s nothing like spending Christmas and New Year’s holiday in Philippines. Wala ng tatalo sa saya pag kasama mo pamilya, mahal mo, kaibigan o nakikita mo kapwa mo Pilipino sa araw ng Pasko at bagong taon. Ibang iba talaga, kasi kahit maraming problema, may kaaway at may magulong politics ay naisasantabi at nakakalimutan pagdating ng araw ng pasko at bagong taon. 

Kahit saang bansa siguro tayo pumunta, kahit anong yaman at ganda ng trabaho natin sa ibang bansa, wala pa rin tatalo sa Pilipinas!”

          “Christmas is just around the corner”, we hear this very often, however, there are others who really cannot enjoy celebrating Christmas because of the cultural and religion differences. So as we sing the song again, Christmas won’t be the same with you. ‘You’ can also mean not only the person we love, but also our country, Philippines, where Christmas is well celebrated.



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