Compiled by Alfonso Syquia

Photograph by Anjo Nagallo

In most countries, September is a month where there’s not much to look forward to. However, in the Philippines, once the clock hits midnight on September 1st, people across the country get their Christmas decorations out and go crazy. Here’s a few things that will certainly help with getting in that Filipino Christmas spirit.

#1. Traditional Filipino Christmas food

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Pinoys love eating a vast selection of different kinds of food leading up to Christmas. Desserts include bibingka, a rice cake cooked in clay pots lined with banana leaves, puto bongbong, a purple glutinous rice dish served with brown sugar and coconut shavings, and leche flan. Lechon, a whole roasted pig, sweet Christmas ham, and lumpia, spring rolls, are savory dishes that Filipinos feast on during the Christmas season. Definitely try a few of these dishes this Noche Buena, a traditional feast with family held on Christmas Eve every year.

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#2. Christmas Decorations

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Tons of houses have been decorated with parols, traditional Filipino decorations, and Christmas lights in any and every which way. Similarly, villages across Metro Manila have been decorating to get people into the Christmas spirit as well. The famous parols of Ayala Alabang Village have made a comeback, North Forbes has a gate decorated as a gingerbread house, and Christmas lights are scattered everywhere. Be sure to also check out SM Aura and PowerPlant Mall for impressive Christmas centerpieces that will surely blow your mind.

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#3. Christmas Countdowns

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Malls across the country have countdowns to get people excited for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The SM in Bacolod has started its Christmas countdown, accompanied by a 40-foot Christmas tree and a Christmas scene that is perfect to take pictures with. Also, in 2014, the Araneta Center held a “Countdown to Christmas” sale that lasted from October 1 – 5 to help people get a head start on their shopping for loved ones.

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#4. Christmas Music

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While the rest of the world has Michael Buble’s Christmas album, the Philippines has Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas In Our Hearts” album to blast on full volume to get into the Christmas Spirit. Other notable Filipino Christmas songs include: Pasko Na Naman, Pasko Na Sinta Ko, and Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit. Be on the lookout for carolling groups this Christmas as well – Filipinos are definitely known for their amazing singing voices!

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#5. Simbang Gabi

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With Catholicism being a huge aspect of Filipino culture, Filipinos across the globe follow the tradition of Simbang Gabi leading up to December 25th. Starting on the 16th and ending on the 24th, people go to mass from 4 – 5 in the morning. At the culmination of this sacred tradition, they are able to request a wish from God.

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