The Christmas season has never been more festive when it’s celebrated the Filipino way. It has always been the most awaited celebration in the country as it highlights a lot of important virtues such as religiousness, gratefulness, and generosity through various traditions. More than its festive nature, Christmas has been the most exciting day for the Filipinos especially for kids. In the Philippines, the Christmas season starts as early as September when you start to hear the famous and mesmerizing Christmas songs of Jose Mari Chan at the malls. A lot of families even start to decorate their houses with colourful Parols or lanterns as soon as the Christmas Day countdown of the television networks begins. The love of Filipinos for celebrating Christmas is remarkable and undeniable — which makes it all the more unique. So, we at COCOGEN have listed down some of the Filipino family traditions that are still observed by each generation that emphasize how Christmas is done… the Juan Way. Christmas Season Decorations In the Philippines, you can already see a lot of glimmering Christmas lights and colorful lanterns as early as four months before December. Christmas trees are filled with garlands and Christmas balls while the Nativity Display or Belen is also being set up. Although the mistletoe only appears rarely, Filipinos put up jingling bells as an alternative to hang on their door. Christmas Carolling Some have their tambourines, snare drums, and maracas, but Pinoys have the flattened bottle tanzans in a metal wire and improvised milk can drums. Most kids look forward to singing Christmas carols, especially to their ninongs and ninangs, as they receive some goodies or crisp Php 20 or Php 50 bills after caroling. Some families even organize a Christmas Carol contest of their own on Christmas Eve. Simbang Gabi (Misa de Gallo) It is a common Filipino family tradition to complete the 9-day series of Simbang Gabi or Misa De Gallo. This usually starts on December 15 up until Christmas Eve on December 24. This is done as a sign of thanksgiving to the Almighty Father and to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary as everyone anticipates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December. After the mass, eating Puto Bumbong and Bibingka is a must-try, most especially when it is partnered with salabat (ginger tea) or a hot chocolate drink. Noche Buena One of the highlights of a Filipino Christmas is the sumptuous dinner that happens at the twilight of December 25th — the Noche Buena. Here, the family members gather as they eat together and enjoy different delicious dishes. Lechon, ham, and Queso de Bola are just some of the most common dishes that you can see on the dining tables of some Filipinos during this feast. Monito-Monita and Aguinaldo Probably one of the best parts of Christmas is giving, and of course, receiving gifts. Filipino have this so-called Monito-Monita or the Filipino version of Kris Kringle as a form of exchange gift whereas each participant will have his or her “Secret Santa” or gift giver. This will be revealed during Christmas Eve. Also, it is a common tradition of Filipino families during the day of December 25th or 26th to visit the kids’ ninong and ninangs (godfather and godmother) for their Aguinaldo or Pamasko (Christmas present). It is one of the most awaited moment of a lot of kids as they receive either cash gifts or some goodies from their loved ones. On the other hand, we should not forget the real reason why we are celebration Christmas: To honour the birth of Jesus Christ. May the spirit of giving and love for each other be present at all times. Happy Holidays, everyone! *** The author of this article contributed in their own personal capacity. The views expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of COCOGEN Insurance.