The Philippines is known for their Christmas spirit. They participate in one of the longest, if not the longest, Christmas season in the world. Christmas starts early on the islands. Once the “Ber” months arrive, the celebration starts!
In the Philippines, the usual festivities include dawn masses or Simbang Gabi, and Yuletide songs popularized by Jose Mari Chan played in almost public places everywhere. Christmas placed all over the place and children can be found at your front door singing Christmas carols.
However, the Philippines’ overseas community has learned to improvise ways to feel the Christmas spirit from afar.
Here are 4 things many people do to keep the Christmas vibes alive:
- Celebrate with fellow Filipinos – Overseas Philippines communities big or small gather for the holidays. Families and friends always take time to bond over Filipino food, karaoke, and gift exchanges. This is the best time to meet fellow kabayans, catch up with friends, and share stories about life back home and in their new homeland.
- Call loved ones back home – If you can’t be with them personally, the next best option is to be with them on your devices. Technology helps families stay connected across oceans. This is the time of the year families call their loved ones and wish they were together.
- Recreate the Filipino Christmas Spirit – Even if Filipinos have settled for a long time in their new home, many of them still keep the classic family traditions on Christmas. These include giving aguinaldo or pamasko, using parol or lantern decorations, cooking Filipino food, and celebrating Noche Buenas.
- Join local events – Aside from creating the Philippine-style Christmas spirit in their new host countries, Filipinos also immerse themselves in the local culture. Some share their time and blessings by giving away Christmas food packs, joining fun runs for charity, or volunteering.
We asked our own Remitly team members and friends how they celebrate Christmas away from the Philippines, and here’s what they had to say!
Katrina T., Director, Marketing: “A favorite tradition is staying up late on Christmas Eve, going to midnight mass, exchanging gifts, and having Noche Buena, which is the feast that you share with family and friends. Nothing tastes like the homeland like piping hot tsokolate batirol, pan de sal with queso de bola, and all sorts of other Filipino delicacies on the eve before Christmas!”
Christoph S., Graphic Designer: “On Christmas Eve, I’ll be video calling with my family the whole night so it feels like I’m sitting down with them for Noche Buena and Christmas dinner.”
Christmas abroad is usually celebrated in the same way it’s celebrated back home, bringing the tastes, sounds, smells, and spirit of a Filipino Christmas with them.
How do you keep the Filipino Christmas spirit alive away from the islands? Let us know in the comments below!