9 Christmas Traditions Across the Philippines You Need to Experience

Words by John Peter Himor

Christmas is just around the corner, and what better place to celebrate the holidays than in our own country?  The Philippines celebrates the Christmas season unlike any other. Across the country, Filipinos uphold various Christmas traditions that are nothing short of phenomenal. From parades to performances like the interpretation of the Nativity, these traditions truly showcase the Filipino culture through their love of Christmas and creativity.

So, before you book that international flight for the holidays, have a look at our list of 9 Christmas traditions across the Philippines you need to experience this Yuletide season.

ALSO READ: 14 Tipid but Awesome Gifts Under 250 Pesos!

9. Lantern Parade of the University of the Philippines – Diliman

Christmas Traditions UP Lantern Parade

Photo by Martin San Diego for Rappler

Magnificent floats and lanterns are paraded around UP Diliman’s Academic Oval every Lantern Parade. 

The Academic Oval in UP Diliman shines brightly every December when lanterns of different shapes and sizes are paraded around the acacia-lined streets. Created by the university’s different colleges and organizations, these lanterns are more than just their pretty lights, for they tell stories and depict relevant social issues. The Lantern Parade is often capped by Maskipaps, an after-party filled with good music and great fun.

8.  Ligligan Parul of San Fernando, Pampanga

Christmas Traditions Giant Lantern Festival San Fernando Pampanga

Photo by E.I. Reymond Orejas for Inquirer Central Luzon

Giant parols light up San Fernando, Pampanga every Great Lantern Festival.

The distinctly Pinoy parols do not come much grander than they do every December in San Fernando, Pampanga. The Ligligan Parul (Lantern Competition or the Great Lantern Festival) annually brings the whole of San Fernando together, where each barrio participates in the festival and creates beautiful, kaleidoscopic parols. These larger-than-life lanterns truly prove why San Fernando is dubbed the “Christmas Capital of the Philippines”.

7. Christmas Symbols Festival of Tangub City, Misamis Occidental

Christmas Traditions Christmas Symbols Festival Tangub Misamis Occidental

Photo by Bernardo Agulo

Enjoy the holidays around the world when you visit the different tableaus
in Tangub City’s Christmas Symbols Festival

What started out as a small idea of putting up a Christmas tree to appease a lover soon became Tangub City’s annual, grand celebration for the Yuletide season. If San Fernando has giant lanterns, Tangub City takes pride in their captivating Christmas tableaus during their Christmas Symbols Festival. Displayed around the city plaza are dancing lights and bright recreations of tourist spots around the world, such as the Palais Longchamp and even the Venice Grand Canal.

6. Pastores Bicol of Legazpi City, Albay

Christmas Traditions Pastores Bicol Legazpi City 1

Photo by Marc Alvin Esplana for Inquirer Southern Luzon

Have a most musical Christmas when you go and visit Legazpi City for their Pastores Bicol.

The Nativity story is musically reenacted in the festive Pastores Bicol celebrated all around the region, but especially in Legazpi City, Albay.

It is performed before the celebration of mass on the first day of Misa de Gallo. The colorful costumes, floral-decorated arches, and the joyful tunes will make you go caroling ~Pastores-A-Belen~ all throughout the holidays.

5.  Paskuhan of University of Santo Tomas

Christmas Traditions UST Paskuhan 1

Photo by Tristan Tamayo for Inquirer

Thomasians have their Christmases packed with holiday activities with their annual Paskuhan

The annual Paskuhan in the University of Santo Tomas is a month-long Christmas celebration, with events such as a Christmas concert, a lighting ceremony, and an Agape feast for the Thomasian community. Don’t miss out on Paskuhan’s culmination which boasts of a breathtaking fireworks display amidst a concert of good music and other festivities!

ALSO READ: UST Ended 2017 with Another Spectacular Pyromusical Show at Paskuhan

4. Giant Christmas Tree of Tagum City, Davao del Norte

Christmas Traditions Giant Christmas Tree Tagum City Davao del Norte

Photo from the Tagum City Government Facebook page

Take a look at this majestic 182-foot Christmas tree in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Every year, Tagum City in Davao del Norte aims to put up the tallest Christmas tree in the Philippines, and every year, the tree just keeps getting taller!

This year, the tree stands at a whopping 182 feet and is magnificently lit by 233,400 light bulbs. From just 61 feet last 2014 to almost triple the size this year, how much taller will Tagum’s record-breaking Christmas tree be in the years to come?

3. Belenismo of Tarlac

Christmas Traditions Belenismo sa Tarlac

Photo from Reuters

Belens are taken to a whole new level every year in the Belenismo sa Tarlac

Beautiful belens are donned all over Tarlac for the annual and province-wide Belenismo tradition. This decade-long belen-making culture aims to showcase the Tarlaqueño craftsmanship and communal unity. From quaint little mangers for the office to grand colorful displays in the town plaza, these belens all around Tarlac are sure to make you grateful this Yuletide season.

ALSO READ: Traveling to Tarlac? Here are the “Belenismo” Spots that are Instagrammable

2. Festival of Lights in Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati

Ayala Triangle Festival of Lights Disney 8

Makati becomes a magical place with their Disney-inspired Festival of Lights at the Ayala Triangle Gardens.

A visit to the annual Festival of Lights in Ayala Triangle, Makati makes a Christmas in the metro much more memorable. The busy business district becomes a magical park every night with the spectacular music-and-lights show. This year, Ayala has partnered with Disney to bring the park-goers a Christmas spectacle like no other.

ALSO READ: There’s a Disney Inspired Festival Of Lights at Ayala Triangle

1. Baguio Country Club’s Christmas Village

Christmas Traditions Baguio Country Club Christmas Village 1

Photo by Lito Dar for PIA Caraga

The Baguio Country Club’s Christmas Village is an immersive, white wonderland

If a cold, white Christmas is what you want to have this holiday season, go and visit the Christmas Village set up by the Baguio Country Club. Baguio’s cool, crisp air is perfect for strolling around the village, accompanied by festive lighting, Christmas carols, and even a downpour of artificial snow. What’s cooler (pun intended) is, almost all of the decorations used in the village are made from recycled materials, such as plastic utensils and wine bottles!

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Christmas in the Philippines is a sight to behold. With several traditions and festivals held for the season, each place celebrates their holidays a bit differently from the others. But one thing is for sure: a Filipino Christmas is a happy Christmas!

What Christmas traditions across the Philippines did we miss in our list? Share them with us below!