A Christmas In The Philippines Special (Part 2)
There’s no better time to showcase one’s best family recipes or personal cooking prowess as when kin from all over the country come home for the holidays.
So if you ever meet a Filipino anywhere in your travels abroad, or if you’ve already been to the Philippines at least once in the past, or if you’re considering whether to click that “book now” button on a flight to the Philippines, it might be helpful for you to consider these quirky and unique Filipino Christmas traditions.
Filipino Christmas Traditions
Christmas is a time for hunting down your godparents.
Filipino culture places much emphasis on the role of godparents in the upbringing of their godchildren. They are chosen from among the parents’ best friends and closest relatives, and are thus expected to be a pseudo-parent in every sense of the word. Of course, they are also expected to shower their godchildren with gifts during Christmases and birthdays.
No matter how old or young you may be, you can always knock on the door of your ninong (godfather) or ninang (godmother) and you will surely leave with something in hand—food, money, or whatever else they can give .
Christmas is a time for purchasing food in large quantities:
If you have relatives coming over for the Christmas, better stock up your ref for until the New Year or you’ll have to do with dishes missing half their ingredients. Filipinos don’t usually shop in bulk, preferring to buy the cheaper teeny-sized coffee or shampoo that will last a week at the most. However, budgets are stretched to the limit during Christmas.
It would be embarrassing to serve a bland dish to your family just because you ran out of oyster sauce. The chefs in every family buy their ingredients well ahead of time and in bigger quantities than usual to avoid the mad rush for the most common ingredients like canned fruit, pasta sauce or cheese. So if you’re planning to host a Christmas dinner, make sure that you have everything in your pantry.
Christmas is a time for music.
Starting mid-November, you will hear carollers—in groups or solo—plying malls, churches, roadways and neighbourhoods to perform for a little money (or sometimes none at all).
This is the closest tradition we have to the Western idea of trick-or-treating, only we do it in Christmastime and not on Halloween. And instead of saying trick or treat, we belt out Christmas songs in both English and Tagalog. Filipinos absolutely love to sing. We even invented the infamous videoke to make sure that our voices will come out loud and clear on the sound system.
Most of the carollers are kids aged 7 to 12 years who have no formal training or proper instruments to sing with. Sometimes they don’t even have a makeshift tambourine or maracas as accompaniment to their high, reedy voices. And yet people still give them loose coins or small bills as compensation for their rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” or the well-loved “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” (Christmas is Here).