Manila Travel Guide: Why you should celebrate Christmas in the Philippines
Where are you planning to spend Christmas this year? Will it be a cold, snowy Christmas holiday in Europe or a warm, hearty celebration in Asia? If you haven’t decided yet, let our Manila Travel Guide today tell you why celebrating Christmas in the Philippines is a great idea!
The Filipinos are known to be warm, hospitable and friendly people that often wear a smile. And it’s no surprise that one of their most favoured holidays is Christmas – that time of the year where all is merry, bright and happy!
If you’re already looking to spend a few days in the Philippines for a Manila vacation, better plan it right in time for Christmas because spending the holidays in the Philippines will sure to make your Manila travel experience more special!
Longest Christmas season
To start off our Manila travel guide, did you know that in the Philippines, the Christmas season starts when the “ber months” kick in? Yes, September 1 is officially the beginning of the Christmas season in the Philippines. You can expect to hear lovely Christmas songs and carols playing in the malls, other Manila attractions, trains and other PUVs (public utility vehicles). This is also when families start decorating their homes with bright Christmas lights and other decorations.
During Christmas Eve, most of the Filipinos stay up late to welcome Christmas day with the family. It is also at this time where Noche Buena is celebrated – the midnight feast that includes a variety of delicious dishes laid out for everyone to enjoy! Popular dishes would usually include lechon (roasted pig), rice cakes or bibingka, fruit salad, ham, other sweets and many more.
You can complete the Simbang Gabi
Simbang Gabi, also known as Misa de Gallo is a yearly tradition that refers to the nine late evening or early morning masses that lead to the Christmas Day itself. The Simbang Gabi starts on December 16 and ends on December 25. It is a belief that anyone who completes the 9 morning or evening masses will have their wish come true! Most of the people attend Simbang Gabi with family and friends. You can check out Simbang Gabi schedule of the church near you to make sure you don’t miss out on this tradition during your stay in the Philippines.
Lovely Christmas Carols by young children
Just as the Simbang Gabi commence, it is also the time where a group of young children would start going from house to house singing classic Filipino Christmas songs as well as popular foreign Christmas Carols such as “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, “Silent Night” and other classics. Homeowners may give any amount they wish or they can also say “Patawad” or sorry if don’t want to give any money to the kids.
The gift-giving tradition is very much alive in the Philippines, especially during the Christmas season. Since it’s the season of giving, what better way to celebrate this holiday than by participating in activities such as monito-monita or exchange gifts, and the giving of aguinaldos or Christmas gifts for people with godchildren.
Puto Bumbong, bibingka and other kakanin
Puto bumbong and bibingka are types of kakanin or rice cakes that are only available during the Christmas season. These rice cakes are usually sold outside churches when it’s the start of the Simbang Gabi tradition. So don’t miss out to experience the unique Filipino tradition and make sure to buy these kakanin when you visit churches for the Simbang Gabi.
Start planning your Manila travel itinerary and make sure you check off everything on your list! You can also take a look at the Manila travel guides we have and see lists of things to do in the Philippines during your vacation!