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10 All-Time Favorite Filipino Christmas Foods

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Preparing and eating Philippine Christmas foods are a time-honored tradition among Filipinos, who are predominantly Catholics and who officially celebrate the Christmas season in the Philippines beginning December 16 of each year and up until the first Sunday of January the next year.

On December 16, the Christmas season formally starts in the Philippines with the ushering of the nine-day dawn masses that are held as early as 3 a.m. in the many Filipino Catholic churches. They are called Simbang Gabi in Filipino or Misa de Gallo in Spanish.

The eagerness for Christmas day among Filipinos builds up on those nine days when they troop to their local churches to show devotion to and seek graces from Jesus Christ, Mama Mary, and God.

After attending the dawn masses, Filipinos take pleasure in drinking tsokolate and salabat as well as eating puto bumbong and bibingka.

On Christmas Eve or Bisperas ng Pasko in Filipino, a midnight mass is held in Philippine Catholic churches right before the much-awaited Noche Buena , the December 24 dinner that is supposed to be eaten with well-loved family members until the wee hours of December 25.

During that dinner, Filipinos feast on hamon, lechon, queso de bola, leche flan, crema de fruta, kastanyas, and fruit salad.

On the first Sunday of January in the succeeding year, the Christmas season officially ends during the Feast of Three Kings , which used to be celebrated on January 6 or the twelfth night from Christmas. It is called Tatlong Hari in Filipino or Tres Reyes in Spanish.

We Filipinos love Christmas and we especially love our Christmas foods.

Below is a list of the 10 all-time favorite Christmas foods from the Philippines.

1. Queso de Bola

Queso de Bola is arguably the star on the Filipino Christmas table. It resembles a Christmas ball because it is round in shape, a bit firm, yellow in color, and is coated in shiny red wax. Queso de Bola is a kind of Edam cheese originally from Edam, Holland and brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards.

2. Hamon

Hamon or ham in English is yet another highlight of the Filipino Christmas table. Possibly the most common kind of ham in the Philippines is hamon de bola or ball-shaped ham. Filipinos love to eat their ham sweet and glazed with pineapple juice.

3. Leche Flan

The superstar among Filipino desserts is also a must-have during the Christmas season – leche flan. It is a sweet, smooth, syrupy, and soft dessert made from steamed milk, sugar and egg yolks. It usually comes in oval shapes.

4. Crema de Fruta

Traditionally a cake made with alternating layers of gelatin, candied fruits, cream, and milk, crema de fruta is a mainstay dessert during Christmas season. Ever a creative bunch, Filipinos have learned to prepare crema de fruta the easy and simple way – with the use of crackers! Such a quick recipe has fanned the popularity of crema de fruta in the Philippines even more than before.

5. Puto Bumbong

Made from sticky rice and prepared in cannon-shaped steamers, puto bumbong is a Filipino dessert that usually comes in purple color and eaten with grated coconuts and sugar cane sweets.

6. Bibingka

A soft and spongy rice cake that is undeniably related to the Christmas season is the round-shaped and yellowish in color bibingka. It is traditionally prepared with rice flour and coconut milk and made tasty with salted eggs and butter.

7. Buko Salad or Buko Pandan

Buko salad or coconut salad in English is a special treat for Filipinos. It is always present in Noche Buena, when family members partake of this chilled dessert made of shredded coconut meat, candied fruits, and condensed milk. A variation of buko salad is buko pandan, a similar dessert flavored with pandan leaves.

8. Kastanyas

Filipinos love to munch on the round and brownish roasted chestnuts or kastanyasin Filipino or castañas in Spanish. Eating this fruit during the yuletide season is an influence of the Spaniards and Americans to the Filipinos.

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9. Lechon

An always-present dish during grand Filipino celebrations that has become part of the Christmas food tradition in the Philippines is lechon, skewered and roasted suckling pig made tasty with its special bastings and sauces.

10. Tsokolate and Salabat

Tsokolate is a hot chocolate drink while salabat is a warm ginger tea that Filipinos customarily drink during the cold mornings when they attend dawn masses or during Noche Buena.

Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

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Cymbelline from Cebu City, Philippines on March 14, 2012:

Puto bumbong! My all time Filipino favorite. I had always mistakenly called it 'puto bungbong'. Now I know what it's really called. :)

William Odell from Upstate South Carolina on November 11, 2011:

Nice kerlyn...keep up the great hubs !!

rjsadowski on November 11, 2011:

Good article. It is always interesting to learn about food from other cultures.

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on November 11, 2011:

Mouthwatering. I have had a few of the things on your list and I find Asian cuisine extremely enjoyable, as a matter of fact Asian is my favorite cuisine.

plinka from Budapest, Hungary on November 11, 2011:

Wow, you have very special meals! I love the colors, I think, decoration is as important as the taste of the dish. Voted up!

kerlynb (author) from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ on November 11, 2011:

Hello Thelma! You can easily buy them at the supermarkets. I went shopping today and saw queso de bola all around :)

Thelma Alberts from Germany on November 11, 2011:

Oh kerlynb!!! You make me feel hungry especially to that Queso de Bola. I miss European cheese like Edamer. Can you tell me where I can buy it in Manila? Thanks for sharing. These Filipino food is delicious.

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