“Sa may bahay, ang aming bati…” is something you’ve probably heard outside your house as early as November. While caroling is a Christmas pastime enjoyed worldwide, nothing else really compares to the Filipino experience, with kids using improvised tambourines out of tansan and drums out of empty Pringles jars. What other time of the year do Jose Mari Chan album sales go up than this?
3. Simbang Gabi
If there’s one thing you have to admire about Filipinos, it’s really faith and dedication. I mean, who else would persevere waking up at an ungodly hour and struggle to stay awake listening to the priest’s sermons, and repeat for 9 mornings straight? Then again, it helps to have one hell of an incentive — it’s said that your biggest wish will come true. Of course, simbang gabi isn’t complete without ending the festivities with tsokolate, bibingka, and puto bumbong.
Just take a look at your street on Christmas morning and you’ll know what I mean — children dressed in their best, hopping from one ninong or ninang to another. Also popular sights are the red Chinese envelopes (“ampao”) and godparents suddenly performing ninja moves.
1. Noche Buena
The most popular holiday tradition without a doubt, noche buena brings all of your Christmas favorites together that you only get to eat once a year, more or less. I myself look forward to our annual paella, jamon, ube halaya and leche flan. Oh, and noche buena always brings the family together, no matter what.