September jumpstarting the holiday season is one of the quirkier Filipino Christmas traditions. Some find it funny, but locals thrive on the months-long cheer. The world becomes brighter when you put up décor, indulge in festive food, and sing along to Jose Mari Chan. Make these activities more memorable by involving your brood, especially your Gen Z kids. After all, these months are the most wonderful time of the year for family bonding!
7 Filipino Christmas Traditions Your Kids Should Know
There are many traditions worth passing down from generation to generation. Here are some of them! See which ones you can check off your list with help from your kids.
1. Deck your halls for the holidays.
Make it a hands-on family activity by crafting DIY décor together. For example, you can make a recycled Christmas parol with colorful plastic bottles and cups. Or why not turn your kids’ Christmas Belen ideas into a creative project? How about a nativity scene made of cardboard and other packing materials from your online shopping?
If you’ve held on to old decorations, share their history with your kids. Talk about what you loved most about the holidays! It’s an easy way to get everyone excited about the coming festivities.
2. Appreciate unique seasonal local food.
No one does kakanin for Christmas like Filipinos. It’s the time of year you can grab bibingka or puto bumbong wherever you go. You’ll also catch whiffs of castañas (roasted chestnuts) and sweet Christmas ham while walking around the supermarket. Don’t fight the cravings! Indulge and get your kids to try them, too. Even picky eaters will find something to love – local Christmas cuisine is so varied and exciting!
3. Helping with Noche Buena prep.
Involve the whole family in preparing your Christmas Eve feast! Delegate simple tasks like mixing macaroni, veggies, and Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise to make the classic macaroni salad. Prepare the ingredients but let your toddler do the rest. If you have kitchen-savvy teens, you can assign them more complex duties, like baking the ham or preparing the mango float. Your Noche Buena is guaranteed to taste even better after working on it together.
4. Go around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols.
In the Philippines, door-to-door caroling is more about coming together as a community than having choir-ready vocals. It’s reminiscent of a time when kids would sing on your doorstep and finish with shouts of “namamasko po!” This year, lead your family in singing Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” while walking around the neighborhood.
5. Give thoughtful and creative gifts.
Secret Santa goes by many names. In some countries, it's known as Kris Kringle. Here, locals call it Monito-Monita. Usually, everyone in the group would draw names from a box; whoever you pick becomes your Monito or Monita. Your next task is finding a good gift for them, while whoever picks you does the same.
When it comes to gifts, remind your little ones that the thought counts more. They don't have to be flashy or expensive – they only need to be considerate. For many, handmade presents are more valuable than anything in stores. Encourage your kids to make one-of-a-kind cards, crafts, and food to share with friends and family. It highlights the value of putting effort into making others smile.
6. Attend Simbang Gabi and Misa de Gallo.
Christmas in the Philippines is never complete without special masses. The country is predominantly Catholic, so attending church service is part of local traditions. In December, it becomes an even grander event. Churches put up bright, colorful lights and display a life-size Belen to welcome mass-goers.
The highlight is Simbang Gabi, nine days of dawn masses from December 16 to 24. It culminates in Misa de Gallo, the midnight mass held on Christmas Eve before Noche Buena. Simbang Gabi requires commitment, which is why many believe completing the days leads to granted wishes.
7. Spread love through community work.
Did you notice a theme? Filipinos love being a part of a community, especially during the holidays. You should also make space for people outside your bubble – especially those who lean on charity to get through tough times.
Agape is a Christian concept that means giving love to others. Some Catholic churches and schools enact it through potlucks or food drives. Get your kids involved by donating to your parish and joining distribution efforts. It can show them that giving can be as simple as sharing homemade sandwiches or volunteering at charities.
Does your family practice other Filipino Christmas traditions? Keeping your youngsters involved will help them develop a deeper appreciation for all the good the season brings. Pinoys know it goes beyond the shiny decorations, Aguinaldo, and Noche Buena!
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