Noche Buena - Pinoy Family Christmas Dinner

NOCHE BUENA - is a Filipino tradition of having the whole family eat dinner together, usually at 12 midnight, after the Christmas Eve mass. It is also the title of one famous Filipino Christmas song that really depicts what happens the day before Christmas in the Philippines. I felt the true sense of the song as we prepare for the the birth of Jesus Christ. The song goes...

Kay sigla ng gabi Ang lahat ay kay saya

- The night is so alive, everybody is so happy. Yes, it was really felt in the air. Everyone getting ready for the Holy Mass that usually ends an hour or sometimes right before midnight. The Bisperas ng Pasko or Christmas eve mass is very much anticipated particularly in the province. This year I have witnessed the Panunuluyan - a reenactment of the journey of Joseph and Virgin Mary. The panunuluyan in Filipino means the search for a place to stay or a lodge. After the mass means Christmas dinner!! Food, food and food with the family!

Nagluto ang Ate ng manok na tinola. Sa bahay ng Kuya ay mayrong litsunan pa
- Elder sister cooked chicken soup (in papaya and ginger). In elder brother's house they are roasting pig (slowly on charcoal). The usual traditional food prepared for feasts. However, We did not have those food. For our Noche Buena we had Pinoy style spaghetti, fried chicken, ube halaya(a lot of which we gave away), pancit, my mother in-law's menudo, leche flan and Crema de fruta (my pride!).

Ang bawat tahanan may handang iba’t iba

- Each home has prepared variety of food! Very true. Lot's of food! Forget about diets! And the tradition of giving away food to your neighbor still lives on. So, whenever we prepare food, we make sure there is extra for the neighbors. As we gave away food, we received fruits and buco salad and some rice cakes. A neighbor aunt gave us a very yummy ..one whole crunchy crispy pata (cripy fried pork leg)! Whew! (I can hear my heart say 'Be cautious... the blood pressure')

Tayo na giliw Magsalo na tayo. Mayro’n na tayong tinapay at keso

- Come my Dear and let's dine together. We have bread and cheese. The celebration in its truest sense is sharing the noche buena with the people you love. We do have bread and cheese. But I think no one minded them because of the other food prepared for the Yuletide feast. Well, I think the bread and cheese here symbolizes that no matter how simple the food is, what matters most is the family that dines together.

Di ba Noche Buena Sa gabing ito At bukas ay araw ng Pasko

- It is Noche Buena tonight, isn't it?
And tomorrow is Christmas Day!
The Noche Buena marks the eve of Christmas Day for Pinoys.
That night I have my complete family plus the extended family of in-laws. Filipinos are known to have a close-knit family that we usually have noche buena with the rest of my wife's siblings. The following day means dinner with my side of the family - my wacky siblings. With my side of the family, Christmas Day dinner was held at the cemetery. See? Even from the grave, my father was a part of our Christmas celebration!!

This, I believe is still one of the best traditions of Filipinos. Together, the complete family, celebrating Christmas.

...As the birth of Christ also completes the Holy Family!

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