Enjoying the Traditional Filipino Christmas: What You Need to Know

Truly a unique experience, Christmas in the Philippines – or in Filipino, “Paskong Pinoy” – is unlike anywhere else in the world because of the cultural traditions that are observed during the holiday season.

One of the most popular traditions is the Simbang Gabi, or dawn mass. This religious service is held every day from December 16th to Christmas Eve, and it attracts large crowds of people who come to hear Mass and sing carols.

Apart from the Simbang Gabi, another unique tradition is the Misa de Gallo, or “Rooster’s Mass.” This Mass is held at midnight on Christmas Eve and features a special reading from the Bible.

Another popular tradition is the Noche Buena, or “Christmas Eve” dinner. This feast typically includes traditional Filipino dishes such as lechon (roast pig), ham, queso de bola (a type of Edam cheese), and champorado (a chocolate rice porridge). The table is also typically decorated with Christmas lights, pine trees, and other festive decorations.

Finally, one of the most iconic symbols of Filipino Christmas culture is the parol, a star-shaped lantern made out of bamboo and paper. These lanterns are often hung outside people’s homes to celebrate Christmas.

In addition to these traditional observances, Filipinos also celebrate Christmas with other activities such as caroling, exchanging gifts, attending parties and gatherings, and putting up nativity scenes.

If you’re looking to familiarize yourself with tradition and want to enjoy the traditional Filipino Christmas cheer, then you need to read this guide! In this article, we discuss some of the best ways to celebrate Christmas in the Philippines.

12 Tell-Tale Signs It’s Definitely Christmas, as Experienced by Pinoys

The Philippines has the longest Christmas season among all other countries. And honestly, it’s great to be getting into the holiday spirit so early in the year. Christmas is a time for family, love, and celebration, so getting the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends, spread love and good cheer, and have fun earlier than other countries is pretty cool.

But, of course, the fact that our country has the longest Christmas season in the world means that some things that are usually expected to happen only in December happen a few months earlier. For some people new to the premature holiday cheer, this can seem surprising. But for others, “Yep. It’s Christmas in the Philippines now.”

Here are the 12 tell-tale signs that let you know Santa is coming:

  1. Green Day

Green Day

You know the Ber Months have begun when you hear “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” The good news is that the song will stop being blasted at regular intervals once it’s October 1st.

  1. Filipino Families Setting Up the Christmas Tree Early

Christmas Trees

If your family’s the type who follows the traditional holiday timeline, chances are that you’ve walked into the living room on the morning of September 1st (or if your family’s laxer, September 2) to find your parents struggling to set up that plastic pine tree while Christmas baubles, holly garlands, and other festive ornaments are strewn all over the floor.

And while that’s going on, the radio is probably…

  1. Blasting Christmas Carols Everywhere

Jose Mari Chan 5

Once the “Ber Months” begin, hits like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” start getting played in homes, malls, radio stations… Basically, any place that has a speaker. It’s also the Rise of the Carolers, with aspiring musicians going from door-to-door to sing for a little payment.

And for us Pinoys, once the Christmas season kicks off, there is one musician who dominates the charts.

  1. Jose Mari Chan

Jose Mari Chan 1 1

You know it’s Christmas in the Philippines when you hear “Whenever I See Girls and Boys Selling Lanterns on the Street” just about everywhere you go. By the time December arrives, you’ve probably memorized all the lyrics.

  1. Christmas-Themed Malls Galore


Malls here in the Philippines always like to keep abreast of the holidays so expect your next mall outing to be filled with Christmas-themed decor.

This is also the time when sales for Christmas trees, decorations, and gift baskets start popping up so you can prepare for the holidays early. From the usual cardboard or plaster Santas, Snowmen, and Rudolphs, to the more contemporary Frozen-style ice palaces and giant walk-in snow globes with fake snow swirling around them, the malls are bound to get a serious makeover once the “Ber Months” begin.

However, all that early Filipino Christmas decorating inevitably leads to conflict with another festive occasion happening before December…

  1. The Halloween vs Christmas War

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It’s the age-old dispute over which decorations to put up every year. Dismantle your Christmas lights and put up jack o’ lanterns or keep them up to confuse those trick-or-treaters? Some say that Halloween should get priority as it happens on October 31st, which takes precedence while Christmas can wait as it officially falls on December 25th.

Either way, in the Philippines, Christmas decorations are most likely to prevail.

  1. Friends Dropping Hints About their Wish Lists for This Year

Screen Shot 2019 08 01 at 4.21.44 PM

Whether it’s casually bringing up that new phone model that was just released, posting pics of celebs rocking a new designer line, or straight up sending you a picture of a prized book or makeup line on Messenger, your friends’ subtle not-so-subtle hints on what they want for Christmas will be made known to you early on.

  1. Family Reunions

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During the holidays, everyone’s excited to get together now that they’re more or less on vacation. But there will always be that one room for family Christmas drama during reunions where you will be bombarded with tons of nosey questions.

Aside from the one mentioned in the photo above, other iconic awkward questions asked by your tita, tito, lola, lolo, cousin, or distant relative during family reunions include:

  • “May boyfriend ka na ba?”
  • “Kailan ka ikakasal?”
  • and “Ano ulit yung trabaho mo?”

Awkward silence intensifies.

  1. Fruit Salad

Fruit Salad

A staple during Noche Buena. Some like it, some hate it. Sometimes there’s melon, sometimes there’s nata de coco. And sometimes it’s too sweet or too creamy. Whatever your preference is, there’s no escaping this somewhat healthy dessert during the holidays.

  1. Brightly Lit Streets

Filinvest City Christmas

As if by magic, those streets you’ve often complained about not having enough light during nighttime burst into life with holiday-themed light fixtures. Dazzling displays guaranteed.

  1. Parols Everywhere

LOOK Filipino Community Gives Singaporean Government a Giant Parol

When the Christmas season starts in the Philippines, these beautiful star-shaped lanterns – ranging in sizes, designs, and colors – appear to brighten up even the dreariest of streets during the night. Made to represent the star that led the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem, the parol is truly an iconic symbol of the Filipino Christmas.

  1. Traffic Armageddon

traffic jam

Family coming over from all corners of the world to celebrate the holidays at home? That can only mean one thing: traffic jams from hell. Is it just me, or is the ride to the Christmas party more physically and mentally draining than the party itself?

Are there any other Pinoy Christmas traditions we might have missed?

Now, that you have an idea of what to expect from the typical Christmas cheer in the Philippines, here are the Filipino Christmas decorations to complete the look at home.

These Must-Have Filipino Christmas Staples Will Bring Holiday Cheer to Your Homes

Yuletide is celebrated in most parts of the world, but there’s nothing quite like a Pinoy Christmas. We celebrate it longer than most countries—for over a hundred days, in fact.

What makes a Pinoy Christmas so special? For Filipinos, it’s the sumptuous holiday spread, twinkling lights and decor, meaningful gifts, and Christmas carols, all made even more special with precious memories of enjoying them with our loved ones. In addition to the yearly family Christmas traditions, the look of every home must also fit the occasion, right?

To make this year’s Christmas celebrations even more memorable, stock up on these Pinoy Pasko essentials:

Filipino Christmas Trees and Lights

christmas tree

Photo from Shopee

Deck the halls and fill your home with holiday cheer using colorful Christmas trees and lights.

After hanging up your parols, don’t forget the star of the show—the Christmas tree. The Homehuk Hakone Christmas Tree stands 1.8 meters tall, perfect for smaller rooms. Decorate it with a string of multicolored Firefly Christmas Lights, which runs on seven watts and lights up with eight different effects.

Christmas Ham and Pinoy-Style Spaghetti

xmas ham

Photo from Shopee

When it comes to Filipino holiday parties, the hapag-kainan is always the focal point.

Filipinos forge stronger bonds over meals, after all. It’s when we reconnect with our loved ones, share milestones, and crack jokes.

For that big holiday spread, prepare a mouthwatering serving of naturally smoked Swift Festival Ham and top it off with a honey pineapple glaze.

Next, cook some spaghetti with Royal Pasta + Spaghetti Sauce, which comes in a sweet flavor Pinoys will love, and plenty of chopped hotdogs.

Karaoke and Music


A truly Pinoy Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a lot of music. Belt out your favorite hits with the whole fam using Platinum Karaoke, which comes with thousands of songs and two wired microphone input jacks.

Or play classic holiday tunes in the background with Zeus x Fujisan Desk Speakers. These Bluetooth speakers feature 60 watts of bold sound and strong bass.

For those celebrating Christmas alone, worry not! Here’s a list of Christmas songs for the singles that you might want to jam to during the holidays to really get up in your feelings.

Filipino Christmas Attire and Pasking Pinoy Outfits

xmas socks

Photo from Shopee

One sure-fire way to make holiday parties even more fun? Dress up in themed apparel.

Slip on a pair of cute and comfy BEAR LEADER Cotton Socks, which come in a variety of Santa Claus- and snowman-themed designs.

And for a cool, casual look, go for MetroSunnies Sunglasses. This pair features a holiday-ready color, a stylish cat-eye frame, and UV protection lens.

Filipino Christmas Decorations

Christmas in the Philippines is a joyous celebration that is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. One of the most important parts of the holiday season is decorating your home with festive Christmas decorations. While some people may prefer to keep things simple with a few lights and ornaments, others go all out with extravagant displays featuring lights, garlands, and even fake snow.

Here are some examples of common Pinoy Christmas decorations:

  • Pine trees: A pine tree is a quintessential part of Christmas decor in the Philippines. You can buy a pre-lit pine tree, or you can string up fairy lights around a real pine tree.
  • Parols: Parols are traditional Filipino Christmas lanterns that come in many shapes and sizes. They are often made from bamboo or metal and are decorated with colorful glass ornaments.
  • Christmas lights: Lights are another key part of Filipino Christmas decor. You can buy strands of multicolored Christmas lights to hang around your home or use special lights that turn on and off to create a festive effect.
  • Garlands: Garlands are another popular way to dress up your home for Christmas. You can buy garlands made from fake leaves, holly berries, or even candy canes.
  • Stockings: Hang stockings by the fireplace to make your home feel more festive. You can buy decorative stockings or make your own out of felt or fabric.
  • Wreaths: Wreaths are another classic Christmas decoration that come in many shapes and sizes. You can buy pre-made wreaths or make your own out of evergreens, berries, and other festive materials.

No matter how you choose to decorate your home, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the Filipino Christmas spirit! After all, it’s a special time of year that should be celebrated with family, friends, and loved ones. With just a few decorations, the most treasured family traditions, and some festive music playing in the background, you’ll have a wonderful holiday!

Are there any Paskong Pinoy traditions that you want to share with us? Let us know in the comments below or send us a message.