Christmas in September: A Filipino Tradition

BT Christmas

Article by: Sophia L.

Visual by: Sohyun P.

Edited by: Amelie D.

For most of the world, Christmas celebrations start in December. Here in the Philippines, however, the festivities begin 3 months before – in the “-ber months”. The traditional rites start on September 16th, 100 days before December 25th. Any person not familiar with the Philippines will undoubtedly ask, “Why?” 

One may think it’s because Filipinos are Catholics, but Advent season, which is in preparation for Jesus’ birth, only begins four Sundays before Christmas day, not in September. Instead, many people attribute these early celebrations to the festive culture of the Filipinos. “Filipinos love a good party,” said freshman Joaquin L “and during the Christmas season everyone throws one.” 

Parties are also the perfect time for families and friends to bond over good food – another reason for starting to celebrate Christmas in September. Food is an important aspect of the Filipino culture. Traditional delicacies such as queso de bola (round cheese), bibingka (sweet rice cake), and lechon (roast pig) are Filipino Christmas staples. 

Moreover, as a large population of the country are OFWs or studying abroad, Christmas is a time when families are able to reconnect. The feeling of joy which being together brings to Filipinos is so overwhelmingly felt that many decide to start preparing for their holiday parties months in advance. 

But of course, to truly feel the Christmas spirit, one must also try to diminish stress. As of now, department stores such as SM are starting to sell Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments, while malls nationwide are bringing out their decorations and playing the best tunes, namely ones by Jose Mari Chan (a popular Filipino songwriter), to attract shoppers. In other words, the months before the big day are a time for Filipinos to buy their Christmas gifts, set up their Christmas tree, and of course plan their Noche Buena, which is the biggest celebration taking place on Christmas Eve. 

Freshman Javi G. is no stranger to this schedule. “We already set up the Christmas tree in my house and I have a countdown going until December 25.” When asked why he starts preparing so early, he responded by stating “it’s just something my family has been doing for so long because the energy [of] playing Christmas music and seeing the tree makes you want to celebrate longer.” 

It’s safe to say that there is not one solid reason why Filipinos start celebrating Christmas in September. Instead, the answer lies in Filipino culture’s many aspects. But all that aside, Filipino or not, you can guarantee that celebrating Christmas a little earlier than usual will lift your spirits. 

So, why don’t you try it this year?