A colorfully decorated fir tree, snow on the roofs, contemplative music, the whole family at a beautifully decorated table and presents for young and old – that’s how Christmas looks like for most of us. But do all people in this world celebrate Christmas and is it the same everywhere around the world? Anthony from our partner organization Project Life Subic tells us what Christmas can look like in the Philippines.

According to Anthony, Filipinos celebrate the longest Christmas in the world. While many of us are starting to think about getting the autumn decorations out of the boxes, the inhabitants of the Philippines are already cheerfully decorating their homes for Christmas. Starting at the 1st of September the Philippines hang up Christmas decoration. Starting at the 1st of September the Philippines hang up Christmas decoration. As you know, anticipation is the greatest joy.

Like in Germany, Christmas is a celebration of the family in the Philippines A lot of time is spent with the family over the Christmas period to create beautiful memories together. This time also stands for a long-awaited reunion. For Christmas, family members who have not been seen for a long time are invited to the feast with much joy. Filipino families generally place a lot of importance on spending time with their loved ones and being thankful for their presence.

Filipinos also celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, but unlike us, there is no “Christmas Eve” but the “Noche buena”. In the evening, a festive meal is shared with the whole family. For most families, this is the centerpiece of their Christmas celebration. The reason for this is that the Filipinos put a lot of time and effort into a wonderful meal so that everyone can enjoy the Noche buena. Warm conversations, full of love and laughter surround this meaningful meal, while looking back on the past year and reminiscing. The way this feast is celebrated varies from family to family. Some families prefer a low-key, small celebration with gifts, and others prefer a large celebration with a thoughtful entertainment program. In most cases, the young members of the family show their talents by dancing to the tunes of the latest pop songs to the delight of their uncles, aunts, grandparents and parents. Still other families have their own traditions and spend the Christmas vacations in their respective provinces or at tourist destinations around the country.

Gifts are exchanged and presented to each other only at midnight, hence the name “Noche buena” (beautiful night). Unwrapping the gifts gives the children a lot of joy, especially if there is a red envelope underneath. Traditionally, these envelopes contain money from their ninangs and ninongs (godparents). This money often goes into their own savings or turns into a nice reward. Adults always put a lot of emphasis on never forgetting to be grateful for all this.

When the bells are ringing and the carols are being sung, Christmas is approaching.

We wish everyone a reflective and joyful Christmas season!

Translator: Ronja Dzikus