Christmas family traditions

EVERYONE spends Christmas differently, most of which involve a long time of preparation. Some go as far as planning the long awaited holiday months in advance. With Christmas just days away, five Cebuanos share their family’s Christmas traditions.

Nikka Almazan
campaigns and creatives officer

“What we usually do is have themed parties. This year, we’re going denim! Even our food is themed, depends which cuisine we want to enjoy on Christmas Eve. And Christmas is never complete without “manito-manita,” our own secret Santa. Also, since we’re a family of singers and musicians, we usually gather and play random songs.”

Doyzkie Buenaviaje
travel and style blogger

“Our family welcomes Christmas with a feast as we watch celebratory fireworks from nearby hotels and resorts from our rooftop. And just before lunch on Christmas day, the family gathers around the tree for the opening of gifts. Lunch then follows, with a spread that includes family favorites (our dad’s specialties) like honey-cured pork and ube halaya. And for the past three years, yakiniku has been added to our Christmas lunch menu, which makes our holiday midday meal even more fun.”

Maebelle Varron
corporate and social events coordinator

“A typical Varron Christmas would consist of: setting up two trees (one with the same red and green checkered ribbons, metallic balls and mock gift boxes at the base ever since I could remember), a mid-sized Pampanga lantern, and a “Christmas only” centerpiece at the dining table. I would always look forward to the thick slices of ham, kilos of lechon, queso de bola and other gastronomic indulgences we would allow ourselves to have on the eve of Christmas and in the days that would follow. My mom was always in the habit of making chocolate icebox cake until about two years ago, a tradition which I really hope to bring back this year! The festive season really means family time for us, where we get to spend hours of uninterrupted quality time together, sans the pressure from work. This year is particularly exceptional, because our youngest niece will be spending her first ever Christmas in Cebu.”

Eric Paolo Smith

“Christmas for us has always been about faith, family and food. For most of my life, family on my mom’s side would come together in my grandfather’s home in the city. Most recently though, we have converged in our resort in Moalboal and shared the Christmas celebration with our guests. We stay up on Christmas Eve for the nightlong celebration of the Noche Buena. When it’s time for exchanging gifts, we sing “12 Days of Christmas” when each person born on the corresponding month stands up and sing his part. The night then culminates with a round of games.”

Ethelbert B. Ouano
lawyer and professor

“Since I’ve learned how to cook, Christmas Eve means love and care for the family through food. It is that special day of the year when I set aside monotonous law books for colorful recipe books. Maybe it is a passion that has always been in me—my father was a kusinero while my mom used to operate a carenderia. My preparation usually takes a week; the refrigerator thawing of a regular size turkey usually takes four to five days while the brining takes a day. I prefer to roast a turkey than any other meat on Christmas Eve to avoid redundancy because definitely there will be a ham on any noche buena feast. Together with Metro Manila Film Festival-mate friends, we then go on a movie marathon with at least two MMFF movies on Christmas day.”
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