Noche Buena is one of the biggest and most anticipated parts of celebrating Christmas in the Philippines. Literally translated, Noche Buena means “Good Night” in Spanish, and it refers to gatherings held on Christmas Eve, when families and friends come together to celebrate, with lavish home-cooked feasts.
Interestingly, it is said that Noche Buena started as early back as the 16th century, when Spanish friars apparently required Filipino churchgoers to fast until Christmas morning. Feeling very hungry after coming back from the Christmas Eve midnightmass, the churchgoers invented a nocturnal feast, since technically Christmas morning began at midnight. Hence, the tradition of Noche Buena was born!
A typical Noche Beuna feast might include lechon (roasted suckling pig), pansit (noodles), hamon (ham), kakanin (rice cakes) such as bibingka, puto bumbong and other dishes. While adults look forward to enjoying the fellowship and the food, children also look forward to Noche Buena as the time when they can finally open their Christmas presents!
All in all, Noche Buena is also a fitting and joyful conclusion to the Simbang Gabi (dawn masses). It is an occasion and a reason to rejoice with loved ones!
Do you have your own Noche Buena story or tradition that you’d like to share? We would love to hear from you!