I've been to a number of Filipino Christmas parties myself. At some point, they begin to become predictable. Yet, I never get tired of them. Here are a few things you'll notice if you're at a Filipino Christmas party.
1. There's a Belen or Nativity Scene Displayed In The House
BABY. JESUSES. EVERYWHERE.
Plus 10 points if the nativity scene came from the motherland.
2. Everyone at the party went to or will go to church late at night for "Simbang Gabi"
Jun Ryan Arañas / MANILA BULLETIN
"Simbang Gabi" translates to going to church at night or night at church. There's a Filipino tradition of completing 9 days of "Simbang Gabi" in order for God to answer our prayers. This whole process called, Misa de Gallo, starts on the 16th of December to the 24th. The Philippines has one of the highest populations of Catholics in the world. Celebrating the birth of Christ is extremely important.
3. The host family prepared a Noche Buena!
Let the FEAST begin!
On Christmas Eve, Filipino families, particularly those that are Catholic and Christian gather for the Noche Buena or Christmas Dinner. Native Philippine dishes and delicacies are served. The dish symbolizes abundance and appreciation for life.
4. There are PAROLS hanging
No, we're talking about police paroles and yes, this was Ms.Philippines' (Now Ms.Universe) cultural costume!
This Philippine lantern traditionally made from colorful papers, bamboo sticks, and is shaped like a five-pointed star.
These lanterns were originally designed to help villagers find their way to chapels and churches to pray. Putting up parols homes or other establishments is a common tradition!
5. Kids are aggressively "mano-ing" everyone in hopes for Aguinaldo
Don't forget to Mano to your titos, titas, lolos and lolas and ESPECIALLY your ninongs and ninangs! You may be rewarded for it *$$$$ HINT HINT $$$$$*
What is a "mano" first of all? Of course, it has obvious Spanish roots to it. Mano or pagmamano is an "honoring-gesture" in Filipino culture performed as a sign of respect to elders. It is basically a way of requesting a blessing from the elder. Similar to hand-kissing, the person giving the greeting bows towards the hand of the elder and presses his or her forehead on the elder's hand.
What is Aguinaldo?
It is when children are rewarded and presented with gifts like toys or money by their relatives or godparents. These gifts are popularly called as "Aguinaldo."
( I'm 20 years old...can I still participate in Aguinaldo?)
6. They're playing Monito-Monita
The Pinoy's Monito/Monita is a modification of the Secret Santa. You have to give a small gift to your Monito/Monita (Secret Santa Baby) every week if you have started the game earlier or every day if you begin the game nearer to the official Christmas party. There are often themes for each gift of the week or gift of the day. For example, Week 1: Give something colorful. Week 2: Give something sweet and so on and so forth.
7. There's a very LOUD game of White Elephant happeningGiphy
Lots of drama happens when someone steals the Amazon Alexa for the second time. Then there's always that ONE person who brings a completely useless gift like a toaster or a rice cooker.
"HOY Who brought a rice cooker to da white elepant ha?? My god, the minimum is $35 my goodness gracious naman. Mukang second hand pa naman yan"
8. Titos and Titas are fighting for the Karaoke
"ANAK! Please play Halik by Aegis!"
"Ang haliiiik mohhhhh na mimisss kohhhh!!!"
"Okay Anak you change it again to da wan by Ogie Alcasid, You know da wan in dat telenovela?!"
"Bakit ngayon ka lang dumating sa buhayyy kohhhhhh"
9. There's a line to get Puto Bumbong and Bibingka
Puto Bumbong (Left) Bibingka (Right)
Okay for the last time, PUTO means rice cake in Tagalog. These two delicious Filipino snacks are available all year round but for some reason, it has quite an important presence during Christmas.
Puto bumbong is a sticky, violet colored rice cake that is steamed in a bamboo tube. Putois originally a Chinese dish (rice balls) that is served for breakfast or merienda (Filipino equivalent to afternoon tea or brunch). The word "puto" is a generic term for a rice cake made from galapong (rice flour). A regular puto is white, but bumbong is purple because it's made with pirurutung glutinous rice. There are many other types of puto with just as many variations.
The bibingka ends up being slightly sweet and is served with itlog na maalat (sliced salted duck eggs) and kesong puti (white cheese). The newly cooked bibingka is slathered in butter, sprinkled with brown sugar, and served with niyog (grated coconut). Traditionally, the cake was just made of rice and flour, and the rich toppings were added later on. The banana leaf in which the bibingka is baked gives off an aroma that the cake absorbs to add another element of flavor. The cake is semi-sweet, but there is a sugary crunch from the caramelized sugar, and the salted ducks eggs, cheese, and grated coconut provide lots of pleasant texture.
10. There is endless Pancit and Filipino Spaghetti
"Eat more noodles so it will gib you long life!"
Filipino Spaghetti is the Pinoy version of Spaghetti with meat sauce. This version has a sweet tomato based sauce with lots of meat ingredients such as ground pork, luncheon meat, and hotdogs. People will often add in Banana Ketchup as well! It is often served during kid's birthday parties along with some yummy fried chicken and cake.
11. There's Christmas Caroling...FILIPINO STYLE
I've seen this more in the Philippines than in any other country. You'll often see groups of children and/or adults gathering together with instruments spreading the Christmas cheer with traditional Filipino Christmas songs and classic Christmas songs as well!
12. You'll meet that one Tita who always gifts your family "Quseo de Bola"
If you know...you know.
Queso de Bola is the Filipino term, from Spanish, for Edam cheese. The term literally translates to "ball cheese". It is a Dutch cheese in a sphere and is coated with red wax.
13. You'll never hear the end of all the Tagalog Christmas Songs
Some traditional Tagalog Christmas Songs Include:
14. All the "balat" of the Lechon is GONE
Pass the mang tomas please!
All the "balat" or skin of the pig has probably been eaten by all your titos and titas who will have high blood pressure the following morning.
15. Your titos and titas are interviewing you about your love life
"No tito, I do not have a boyprend yet"
"Yes po, I am prioritizing my studies first"
"I am too young to have a husband tita"
16. Your titos and titas are also interviewing you about your school life
"So are you doing nursing eskewl?"
"Ah, does dat make any money?"
"I tink you should just do nursing eskewl"
17. You'll constantly hear: "Okay! Wacky, Wacky!"
Is it even a Filipino party if there aren't several group pictures that don't have "wacky" versions?
18. You stay an extra 3 hours after saying "Goodbye" (AKA: Filipino Goodbye)Giphy
Your mom says that we're all going to leave now, BUT FIRST you need to kiss goodbye to all your titos and titas. AND THEN you mom will get caught up in the chismis.
19. You're forced to play a children's game
When the host finishes saying the first level of "Bring Me"
Of course, you're going to play it no matter how old you are. Some games include musical chairs, Bring Me, and Pinoy Henyo!
20. Your Tito or Tita is forcing you to sing or dance for everybody
"Come on anak, you show dem how you sing and dance and they will gib you $20"
21. They're already planning Media Noche
Yes. Yes, there's more food involved. In case you haven't noticed, Filipinos were the original foodies. This feast is celebrated on New Years Eve where families and friends come together once again to celebrate prosperity for the new year! (Oh and don't forget the ROUND fruits!)