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How to Celebrate Christmas with a Filipina

Girls and boys selling parols on the street, people giving gifts and exchanging cards — you know what that means? Christmas is just right around the corner.

There are many different reasons why Filipinos look forward to the holidays. Vacations, Christmas bonuses, exchanging gifts — all these are just icing on top of the cake of the festive merriments that are about to happen.

The best part about Christmas in the Philippines, without a doubt, is the parties.

Filipino Christmas parties are often huge and lively. There are so many people you can mingle with and conversations that will have you snorting your beer.

What will make it more special, though, is the lovely Filipina you’ve been seeing. Being invited over for Christmas is an honor even by Filipino standards. That only means she’s serious about seeing you.

For the best possible holiday experience on this island getaway, it’s best to understand what is the Christmas tradition in the Philippines.

Filipina smiling
Christmas is the season that most Filipinas look forward to. It’s the only time of the year where they get together with the whole family — distant relatives included.

What makes Christmas in the Philippines Unique?

To start with, Christmas in the Philippines starts in September. That’s about four months’ worth of Christmas celebrations — talk about a long holiday!

You’ll see and feel the Christmas spirit when you go around malls or in recreational areas. When September 1st rolls in, traditional Christmas food starts to make an appearance in groceries and supermarkets. The most common ones you’ll see are pear-shaped holiday hams or queso de bola.

Not surprisingly enough, this is also one of the most common gifts Filipinos receive during Christmas. You might even encounter some people who teasingly ask their friends for pamasko or Christmas gifts.

Giving gifts to the people closest to you is a long-running Christmas tradition for many. Filipinos, however, take this to the next level.

Filipino people have a very deep cultural trait called utang na loob, which is loosely translated to as “debt of gratification”. For them, Christmas is the one time of the year where they can give back to the people that have helped them get through the year.

Christmas Parties in the Philippines

How to Celebrate Christmas with a Filipina? Come along with her to Christmas parties.

Christmas parties in the Philippines are often held in early December. There’s one with old high school friends, your coworkers, and your barkada or your close group of friends.

You’ll most probably be dragged by your Filipina girlfriend to be her plus one in these events. Take it as a good sign because it means she wants to introduce you to the people most important to her.

You might want to prepare a little something beforehand since most of these parties are potlucks. Some will likely have the customary Manito-manita event or the Filipino Secret Santa present exchange.

Christmas parties with family aren’t often seen as a Christmas “party,” per se. Rather, it is an intimate get-together where the whole family gets to spend time with each other over dinner.

Countdown to Christmas

Simbang Gabi, which means “night mass” in English, is a nine-day series of dawn masses before Christmas Eve. It’s usually held at dawn, sometimes 3 to 5 am.

Surprisingly, there are more people flocking in to attend this mass than on your regular Sunday. You’ll see churchgoers fill in the place from wall to wall — some even stay outside the church.

There’s a reason why Filipinos put in the effort to attend this specific mass. If you are to complete all nine days, it’s a belief that your Christmas wishes will come true. Hence, Filipinos would brave the morning cold just to fulfill this advent tradition.

But it’s not all bad. Many vendors see this as an opportunity to sell warm food outside the church. This is the most convenient time for you to enjoy Filipino delicacies such as puto bumbong, puto, budbod, and bibingka.

Filipina smiling
Christmas is the season that most Filipinas look forward to. It’s the only time of the year where they get together with the whole family — distant relatives included.

If you do need a warm drink, there is someone selling sikwate right around the corner. What better way to stave off the chill of dawn than with a warm cup of Filipino chocolate?

You don’t have to be Catholic to hear mass. You can simply stay outside the church with your girlfriend. So as long as you don’t take the communion, you should be fine.

Getting Ready for the Noche Buena

Noche Buena is a yuletide tradition where you have a hearty feast before Christmas Day. Filipinos often wake up at midnight, right before they count down the minutes to Christmas Day.

Filipinos look forward to celebrating Noche Buena collectively as a family. This is a way of celebrating togetherness as a family, which most Filipinos feel grateful for.

Typically, Noche Buena is not shared with guests, only family members. To Filipinos, it’s a cherished time with family. Hence, it is among the most meaningful meals of the year for many Filipinos around the world.

christmas tree
It’s a Filipino Christmas tradition to wake up before midnight to celebrate Noche Buena.

Being invited to one by your Filipina girlfriend marks a milestone in your relationship. This would only mean that she and her family consider you as one of them.

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Hence, be on your best behavior and try your best to win everyone over.

Get a bit of everything, and eat whatever is on your plate. If you’re full, politely say that you just had some food, but you’ll come back for seconds in a bit. Bring some Christmas gifts as well — Christmas hampers often do the trick for practical Filipinos.

Making the Most of the Christmas Festivities

Andy Williams wasn’t lying when he said Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. There are too many great things that happen in this season of giving. This also makes you aware of the many blessings you have in your life.

Namely, your most beloved treasure, in the form of a Filipina.

Celebrating Christmas with the person you love the most is one of the most unique and fulfilling things that could happen to anyone. So if you are currently spending it with a lovely Filipina woman, make the most out of it.

This might be the first of many to come.

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