Christmas in the Philippines: Christmas Eve
Filipinos prepare for Christmas Eve by giving their homes a thorough cleaning. Those who can afford it also buy new clothes, which they wear for the first time to Midnight Mass or to Christmas morning mass. Families also stock up on special holiday foods, since extensive visiting takes place over the holiday season.
Christmas Eve is a family affair in the Philippines. Often the extended family will gather at one of the grandparents’homes early in the evening. Filipinos are famous for their hospitality so distant relatives and even friends of relatives are often welcome at this event. Very small children may be left at home to nap while most of the family attends Midnight Mass. Large numbers of people attend mass on this evening, so many people arrive early, hoping to secure a seat. Churches are often filled by 10:00 p.m.
After the mass most people return home for a bountiful Christmas Eve banquet. Hosts and hostesses of large gatherings may have prepared as many as fifteen or twenty different dishes for guests to choose from. These may include arroz caldo (chicken and rice soup), lumpia (spring rolls), rellenong manok (boned stuffed chicken), rel-lenong bangus (boned stuffed milkfish), and calamay (coconut rice pudding). Bands of carolers may arrive at the door during this festive meal, as well as neighbors and friends who stop by to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Children sometimes sing, dance, or perform a little play for the adults. The party continues until four or five in the morning. Afterwards, bed rolls are spread out for the many house-guests who stay the night.