Traditional Filipino Food Ideas for the Christmas Eve

Pinoy handaan for Christmas

It is widely known that the Philippines is among the country that celebrates Christmas the earliest and longest in the world. Since “BER months” are a month of sharing, loving, and happiness, these months start to dominate the Filipino people. It is common practice for Filipinos to begin counting down to Christmas which runs from September 1 to December 25. Prepare for Christmas by knowing what food you’ll be having as early as now, here are some ideas using Traditional Filipino Food.

Must-try Christmas Treats During Simbang Gabi

In the Philippines, you can really feel the meaning of the so-called Christmas. There are already Children begun singing Christmas carols in their neighborhood using recycled instruments like the cap of soft drinks locked in stainless steel wire, plastic bottles, and a can that has a stone inside to make a sound out of it. There are some who also begin to sell lanterns and Christmas parols.

The celebration becomes more exciting as people begin to attend 9 consecutive days of masses early in the morning or even at night called the “Simbang Gabi” or Misa De Gallo leading to Christmas Eve.

Churches are also decorated for the occasion, and after the mass, vendors frequently sell local goods like bibingka and puto bumbong outside. During this time, the Christmas treats that Filipinos never miss are these two:

1. Puto bumbong

A purple-colored rice delicacy that is steamed in bamboo tubes. Quite often, shredded coconut and brown sugar are added to puto bumbong dishes (usually muscovado). Recently, grated cheese and butter have also been considered popular toppings.

2. Bibingka

A type of rice cake baked in clay pots and banana leaves that consist of rice flour and water. Bibingka was originally made with milk, eggs, sugar, and butter, but was later modified with additional ingredients. Modern bibingka may be made with anything from grated cheese, salted eggs,  grated coconut, and a variety of different sweet and savory toppings

Moreover, a Noche Buena feast with families and friends on Christmas Day is indeed a Filipino tradition to make Christmas abundant.

Noche Buena or Christmas Eve Food Ideas

Everyone gets together for Noche Buena to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by eating, drinking, and socializing. In the Philippines, a huge feast containing a variety of Filipino food is served in every home. Here are some ideas on Filipino Food you could prepare for Christmas Eve.

1. Hamon

In the Philippines, Hamon is a traditional Christmas ham and is a common side dish that is typically eaten with rice. It has a lump of brown sugar and pineapple glaze on top that gives it a delicious savory and sweet balance. 

2. Lechon

Everyone at the table would undoubtedly grab some of the lechon first before anything else because it is the centerpiece of every Filipino feast. One of the most well-liked Christmas food recipes in the Philippines is this roasted suckling pig specialty.  Its crispy skin and tender pork meat are truly exquisite and are loved by many people not just in the Philippines but throughout the world.

3. Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a common sweet dish in Filipino Christmas food recipes. But using canned fruit in place of fresh fruit makes a fruit salad truly Filipino. Condensed milk and all-purpose cream are used in the mixture to add sweetness. By including shredded coconut in the mixture, many families also make this dish extra special for Noche Buena.

4. Queso De bola

One of these vivid red, wax-coated cheese balls will almost certainly be on someone’s Noche Buena table. Queso de bolas, which are thought to bring luck and fortune to the family, taste salty and faintly nutty like Dutch Edam (a yellow pressed cheese of Dutch origin usually made in flattened balls and often coated with red wax). With some leftover Hamon, they’re ideal for sandwiches on Christmas day.

5. Mango Float

Despite the cold and humid temperature on Christmas Eve (mostly in the Philippines), Filipinos nevertheless enjoy their favorite cold and sweet dessert. It is a frozen treat made of layers of mango, condensed milk and all-purpose cream, and graham crackers. Mango float is comparatively simple to make; simply pile the ingredients in your container until it is completely full, and then freeze it overnight. The dish is beautiful to look at and much more so to eat because of the contrast between the colors of the three components.

Following the festive Noche Buena celebration during Christmas, Filipinos continue to get ready for the forthcoming Media Noche on New Year’s Eve. The Spanish word Media Noche, which means “midnight,” is used to describe how the arrival of the New Year is celebrated by Filipinos.

On December 31, New Year’s Eve, a large number of Filipinos gather to enjoy a midnight supper called the Media Noche. Additionally, some people believe that certain foods, such as the 12 round fruits—from oranges to grapes, “dalandan” to chico, and other round varieties—bring luck and fortune. This makes me wonder why mangoes, pineapples, and bananas are still frequently found on fruit trays and baskets. Media Noche is the most festive of all gatherings because there is a Filipino belief that if we serve a lot, life will become more bountiful.

Here are some of the Filipino Food Ideas for Media Noche

1. Pancit Bihon

There is a Filipino superstition that claims eating noodles or other varieties of pasta would make you live a longer life due to the ingredient’s “long” appearance. Because of this superstition, serving pancit bihon or other bihon and pasta dishes has become a common practice during Media Noche. Even without it, the Media Noche feast is seen as insufficient.

2. Biko

Another popular superstition in the Philippines is that eating the rice cake delicacy kakanin would ensure good fortune for the coming year. One of the most well-liked kakanin dishes offered during the New Year’s feast is biko.

Like most other rice treats, glutinous rice and coconut milk make up the majority of this delicious dish. But to give it its distinctive flavor, it also uses additional natural ingredients like pandan, black rice, and latik.

3. Spaghetti

On important occasions, especially at the Media Noche feast, Filipino-style spaghetti must always be served. This spaghetti, or “spag,” as some Filipinos refer to it, is sweeter than traditional Italian dishes and is frequently topped with sausage pieces. It’s one of the foods that kids absolutely love at feasts.

4. Pinoy Pork Barbeque

On a list of Filipino recipes for important occasions, much less for the New Year’s feast, this next dish must be included. Simply skewered meat that has been well cooked and brushed with a unique barbecue sauce to please the Filipino palate makes up Pinoy pig BBQ.

5. Buko Fruit Salad

This list will be ended with a dessert. Because it is easy of acquiring its ingredients, Buko fruit salad is one of the most popular Filipino sweets. Coconut milk, sugar, and a variety of fruit slices are all you’ll need. You may prepare this by mixing all the ingredients in a container, freezing it overnight, and ready to eat. It is a wonderful dessert to serve after the feasts.

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Written by Sheryl Ann D. Damgo