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Christmas in the Philippines : Traditional Filipino Dishes on Christmas Eve

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Filipinos are very religious and family-oriented by nature. Nothing could ever measure to being with your family and love-ones on special occasions like birthdays, Christening, anniversaries, New Year, and of course Christmas. Filipinos have high regards for Christmas, having known as the ones who celebrates this sacred day the longest and in the moss blissful way.

Christmas preparation starts as early as September and the Christmas season does not only focus on just the eve and the Christmas day itself. Filipinos have this "simbang gabi" (Attending mass) that starts on the 16th of December and ends on the 24th, a day before Christmas. Filipinos ritually attends the mass for nine consecutive days. Then have their festive celebration of the tradional "Noche Buena" (Christmas Eve).

For the Noche Buena, you would see variety of mouth-watering dishes, from desserts, to the main course and you'll get full even at the sight of these Filipino Christmas cuisine.

So what will you find on a traditional Christmas dinner in the typical Philippines setting?



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Let us start with the main course. What are the major dishes that you can find on the Christmas tables of the Filipino community?

  • Lechon (Roasted Pig) - This is the number one to-die-for food for the Filipinos. It's a roasted pig over charcoal. With very crispy skin and tender meat inside, then match it with a sweet and spicy sauce, you'll surely crave for it. Well, just don't eat TOO much or your blood pressure will shoot up triple times. It's quite pricey for a dish though since it's worth the montly salary of an average Filipno, but definitely worth every penny.
  • Holiday Ham - You always see this as part of the Christmas dinner. It's actually called Chinese Ham (I wonder why Filipino loves it), a bulk of pork sweetened with honey and pineapple extract. You can make one at home, but if you are like me, who's so into last minute preparation, then you can buy it from supermarkets.
  • Spaghetti - Noodles would always be part of the Christmas dinner too. Not all kids go for heavy meals and children would prefer eating pasta than eating meals with load of vegetables on it. You can have it the way you want it to be- tomato based, pesto, carbonara, tuna pasta, or the typical Filipino sweet spaghetti.
  • Lumpia (Spring rolls) - I consider spring rolls as finger food, since you can eat lumpia by itself. Doing it is easy. Wrap ground beef with chopped onions, mashed potatoes and carrots, add some spices, then fry it and you're done. Spring rolls are also famous on different occasions, having an easy-to-follow recipe and easy-to-find and low-cost ingredient. Plus the fact that it taste real good!
  • Rellenong Manok (Baked Stuffed Chicken) - This is also being served as part of the grand Christmas Eve dinner. Deboned chicken stuffed with ham, pork, onions and sausages- a recipe that tastes like heaven! I haven't tried cooking this one yet, but I surely will include it as part of my Christmas menu.
  • Kare-kare (Ox Stripe in Peanut Sauce) - Kare-kare is one of the challenging Filipino dishes that I have yet to prepare. You would have to ground peanuts yourself to serve as sauce, then blend everything to have a good outcome. This is being served well with a fish sauce (bagoong) that I am allergic to. they say I am missing half of my life. Well, Id rather not eat something I can't than afford getting rashes all over my body.
  • Beef Caldereta (Spicy Beef Stew in Tomato Sauce) - I never get tired of eating and cooking this dish. It's easy to cook, it will just take long to wait for the meatbe tender. You can eat Caldereta with rice, put that thicks sauce on top of your rice, or you can match it with a bottle of beer while celebrating Christmas with your family.
Lanterns of different styles

Lanterns of different styles

Christmas trees


So we're done with the heavy scrupmtous meal. So what are the other food you will find on a typical Filipno Christmas setting?

  • Queso De Bola (Ball-shaped Cheese) - This is a dutch cheese that is covered with red wax, of course not the type of wax that we use on the floor or hair. The price is too much for a cheese, but the odd salty taste is just perfect for breads.
  • Tsokolate (Hot Chocolate Milk) - The native hot chocolate drink made purely of cocoa, being served after dinner as part of the dessert and while waiting for the small hand of the clock to hit number 12 so you can say "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" to your love ones.
  • Leche Flan (Caramel Custard or Creme Custard)- This is the most popular dessert in the Philippines at all times. Nothing could be better than eating a very simple dessert, made of egg, an milk and sugar. Cooking this native dessert would just take you twenty to thrity minutes.


talfonso from Tampa Bay, FL on November 25, 2012:

I love those Filipino dishes during the holidays! I have a soft spot for lechon and leche flan. I'm very likely to see this at my holiday party in a few weeks, since a lot of guests are Filipinos!

youngchow on December 13, 2011:

Hey guys! I found this restaurant that offers affordable and value for money treat in time for Christmas while walking around Rockwell. You may check out C2 Classic Cuisine on Facebook to know more about their "Pasko sa C2" promo. A ready to take home Noche Buena pack that can serve as a gift or as an instant Noche Buena treat.

Here's the link to their page:

unknown on December 10, 2011:

this helped me for a test in scool

mizZ gutierrez on December 23, 2009:

Scroll to Continue

miss kona umuwi sa pinas^-^takam nako sa mga chibog natin!!

lancypinay on December 13, 2009:

love your website and your very helpful, especially i'm looking for something to cook for christmas :)

needful things from Poland on January 22, 2009:

I'm proud to be Pinoy... Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Thumbs Up!!!

mhei (author) from Philippines on December 27, 2008:

hey Tcnixon!

Im glad you enjoyed your stay here and yeah, since Christmas is really a big deal here, preparation starts as early as September. If you come back here in the Philippines for a visit, keep me posted, alright?

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas! :)

tcnixon from California on December 21, 2008:

Wonderful hub! Filipinos do Christmas like few other places. I remember being in the Philippines long ago and I was amazed how early they began celebrating. I would love to go back for a visit some day!

mhei (author) from Philippines on December 21, 2008:

Hi Kevinlt9!

Hope you'll enjoy your stay here. People here are so nice, I can assure you that. :)

If you want to know restaurants, beaches, etc you can go to, check my other hub:

Have a wonderful Christmas! :)

kevinlt9 from Gwynn Oak,Maryland on December 20, 2008:

Wow I'm heading to the Philippines for Christmas! Mhei these dishes sound delicious the Rellenong,lumpia and for desert Leche flan I'm going to find the nearest Filipino restaurant right now!

Thanks for the recipes

mhei (author) from Philippines on December 19, 2008:

@ hibiscus_mel: good to see a pinoy like me appreciating my hub! :) Why don't you take a vacation and visit your fellow Filipinos sometime soon? Merry Christmas! I'm sure you'll have a blast :)

@bisoynjapan: Adobo is just great! I love cooking adobo since it's really to cook, you can cook it with your eyes close,hahahaha! I hope you can share your recipes also. You have an awesome Christmas! :)

@ Eric Smart: Hey, I'd love to share some recipes. Don't yah worry, once I have time, I'll definitely create loads of hubs about recipes. Ill try to check if I can give you good links about mouth watering holiday food. Merry Christmas! :-)

@ RGraf: Hey, thanks for always reading my hubs. My hub is making me hungry too, hahahaha!! It's really fun to cook different cuisines that you think would be a blockbuster specially on holidays. Hope you'll have a wonderful Christmas :-)

@ Financeaussieguy1: I think bisoynjapan has a point. Probably population of Pinoys or Filipinos in Australia is not as huge like in other countries. I'll try to check if I can give you any idea on where to find Asian or Filipino cuisine. You have a Merry Christmas. :)

mhei (author) from Philippines on December 19, 2008:

Hey Denny!

Thanks for reading my hub. I'm glad you liked it. I'm also into trying different cuisines!

You have a Merry Christmas! :-)

mhei (author) from Philippines on December 19, 2008:

Hi michelle!!

Good to hear that we have the same menu for Christmas. I definitely LOVE lechon!! Let's all forget about weight and enjoy the holidays!! hahahaha!

Have a wonderful Christmas! :)

Erick Smart on December 18, 2008:

Mehi, why don´t you share some of those recipes with us, I will be great if we could cook something different for Christmas and prepare it with our family. I will ask my wife to keep a track of your hubs in case you share more !!

bisoynjapan from Japan on December 18, 2008:

I think it's because there is no such thing as "Filipino food" per se, like there is no German food. Italians have pizza and spaghetti, Chinese have noodles, Japanese have sushi, Americans have junk food (lol), Turkish have kebab, etc. Here in Japan, there are some "Filipino restaurants" but they are not big and they don't usually last long due to poor management. I heard there are lots of successful Filipino restaurants in the US. Isn't it beause there are fewer Filipinos in Australia? Just my opinion. They're not scientifically proven LOL.

financeaussieguy1 on December 18, 2008:

the food looks amazing, I've always wondered why they are no philipino restaurants in Australia when we have food from all over the world. I've never seen a single one in sydney, maybe you can answer this?

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on December 16, 2008:

This all sounds go great. I'm so hungry now, thank you. I think it would be neat to add some dishes like this to our holiday just for the fun of trying it.

Thank you for sharing these.

bisoynjapan from Japan on December 16, 2008:

The food looks good! Miss the lechon. Oh, I found a good recipe for adobo in the internet and it became my specialty.

By the way, interesting ad just below a picture of scrumptious foods LOL

hibiscus_mel from Marlton, New Jersey on December 16, 2008:

The food looks great. How I love it. I don't really cook there i just eat and eat,haha..but seeing this reminds me one of the nice things about being a pinoy. Now I'm homesick.;-(

Thanks for sharing your hub.

Denny Lyon from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA on December 16, 2008:

Wonderful hub and looks so inviting! I really like cultural food hubs as it says so much about the people too.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on December 14, 2008:

I'm getting hungry reading all these food words HAHAHA But yes we do have this in our list of menu to Celebrate Christmas :-) Esp. the lechon :-) Merry Christmas mhei!


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