A Look at Philippine Christmas Treats and Traditions Part 1

Christmas is fast approaching! Here are some of the uniquely Filipino traditions and treats that fill the season with meaningful bliss.

Simbang Gabi

One of the traditions of the Philippine Christmas season is the Simbang Gabi or the Dawn Masses. These dawn masses usually take place as early as four in the morning are testaments to the enduring faith of the Filipino people. They begin on December 16 and ends at the “Misa de Gallo” that happens on the eve of Christ’s birth. Most Philippine churches are beautifully decorated with lights and lanterns as the faithful eagerly participate in the mass. Word has it that one’s wish will be completed after the novena of nine mornings has been completed.


Another steady treat of the Christmas Season is the Bibingka. Its distinct aroma is produced by the combination ofgalapong (glutinous rice), kesong puti (white cheese), and itlog na maalat (salted eggs), and a smother of butter and a sprinkle of niyog (grated coconut) to top it all off. The batter is wrapped in banana leaf and is cooked in a clay pot with live coals beneath.

Christmas Caroling

“Ang Pasko ay Sumapit”, “Pasko Na Naman” and “Noche Buena” are part of the classic repertoire of carolers, young and not-so-young alike. Going from house to house and serenading its members have been a tradition for generations of Filipinos. From make-shift tambourines and tin-drums to the more polished guitars and harmonicas, these Christmas songs are a jolly reminder of the coming of our Savior.


A Christian practice that depicts the trials faced by the St. Joseph and Mother Mary as they searched for a suitable place for Our Lady to give birth to Jesus Christ. A young man and woman representing them are led by a procession of musicians and other church folk. They knock on selected houses to ask for permission to stay for the night while the owner of the house declines. The procession ends in the church.

Noche Buena

No Filipino Christmas is complete without the Noche Buena. It comes from the Spanish word which means “good night" or "holy night". It is a gathering that happens on the Eve of Christmas where members of the family and friends partake in a gustatory feast. Usually found on the table are: lechon, hamon, queso de bola, lechon, puto bumbong, pancit, fruit cake, bibingka and tsokolate (chocolate drink).