How Filipino Workers Celebrate Christmas: What Employers Should Know

Categories: Advice for Doing Business in the Philippines
how filipino workers celebrate christmas

Christmas has always been a season filled with joy and merrymaking, and Filipinos know how to celebrate it best. Inevitably, these Filipino Christmas traditions and customs will spill over to the workplace—and there’s no harm in joining in on the fun! 

Partaking in your employees’ customs and traditions is a great way to build rapport and keep them engaged with the company! Celebrate the holiday cheers of the very merry season by learning how Filipinos celebrate Christmas.

7 Christmas Customs That Filipinos Partake in at Work

1. The Philippines and their Christmas months

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and a month is never enough! The Philippines is known to have the longest Christmas season. Also called the ber months, Filipinos start preparing as early as September, with celebrations lasting until the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings in January the following year. 

While the first day of the ber months isn’t the official start of the holidays, these months are highly anticipated nonetheless because the cold night breeze from September to December is the closest thing Filipinos have for winter. So, expect the first few holiday-themed songs and decors to pop up even before December rolls around. 

2. Pamasko: Small gifts are given throughout the holiday

Santa Claus isn’t the only one spreading Christmas cheer to everyone in the workplace. Despite long work hours packed with meetings, Filipinos will make it a point to make everyone feel special with thoughtful gifts. From top managers to the line staff, the generous Christmas spirit spares no one.

Filipinos are known to be givers as much as they are receivers. These aguinaldos (Spanish translation for bonus or, as commonly used in the Philippines, small gifts) can be a little flustering to receive, especially if you’re not necessarily close to the gifter, but take this as an opportunity to nurture a professional bond built on respect and appreciation.

It’s worth noting that not all of your Filipino employees celebrate Christmas for one reason or another. But they don’t have to feel left out in the merrymaking—you can give aguinaldos to everyone at the end of the year for a job well done. It doesn’t have to be specifically because it’s Christmas.

3. The Christmas leave: Preparing work schedule

Busy is an understatement for the buzz Christmas brings every year. Everyone is bustling to complete their Christmas grocery and present lists. Crazy shopping lines and crazier traffic take up a significant amount of time for everyone during the season. 

Instead of losing precious time stuck in traffic, most would schedule time off work to celebrate Christmas without worrying about being inefficient. 

Managers and HR can expect their Filipino staff to plot the VLs they’ve saved around this time. Filipinos are likely to take weeks of vacation to return to their hometowns and partake in the festivities with their family. Prepare for these paid time off requests by ensuring your workforce requirements are still enough.

4. Pasalubong: Giving trinkets from your vacation

As mentioned, Filipinos like to give presents, no matter how small, so it’s also common for them to bring back trinkets from their travels, known as pasalubong.

Whether it was a provincial or international vacation, receiving a pasalubong can make the workplace an environment that values each staff member. While getting a gift for everyone in the office is not mandatory, you can expect a few playful requests for chocolates, delicacies, or souvenirs from your Filipino coworkers once you’ve returned from your vacation. 

5. Filipino Christmas parties: Create lasting, fun memories

A family, friend group, neighborhood, or office Christmas party—you name it, Filipinos will be there. They love good food and good times. Christmas is the best—and their favorite—excuse to throw a party filled with lots of love, laughs, and food!

The classic games Trip to Jerusalem, Bring Me, and the longest Christmas greeting can get your Filipino coworkers excited and dancing off the walls. Bring out the karaoke machine after dinner; you will have a blast this Christmas season. 

6. Monito-Monita: The Pinoy Secret Santa

Christmas parties are made more fun by exchanging gifts and connecting with others. The season can reward you with arms full of presents, pots full of leftovers, and memories filled with laughter. 

Although rules are adjusted to fit the party attendees’ liking, the general principle is to find the perfect gift for your monito or monita, who is usually assigned to you before the party. Then, when it’s time to give presents, describe them by sharing a fun memory with them or their distinct personality and have other attendees guess who it is before finally giving the gift. 

Keep the season of giving alive with this fun twist on gift exchanges. Create an atmosphere full of laughs and comfort in the office by sharing fond memories and bonding through hilarious impressions of one another. 

7. Kain tayo!: Bring home-cooked food

As everyone returns to the office after vacations, catching up with colleagues and reliving Christmas magic is more enjoyable over hearty Christmas leftovers. Mark your cheat days on your calendar because Filipinos will show their love by stuffing you with delicious, home-cooked food. 

Join in on the feast by bringing your own cultural holiday dish and exchanging recipes with your staff. Create meaningful connections through food and how heritage has constantly kept everyone together at the dining table during the Yuletide season.

Have a Happy, Jolly Filipino Christmas

Filipinos are warm and friendly people who love to laugh and spend time with their loved ones. Christmas is a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future. So, let your hair down and enjoy the season of giving with your staff! 

As the Christmas season also signals the start of the new year, some employees may find new beginnings and tie a chapter close. A fresh start can bring differences and changes in their chosen careers, causing the new year hiring rush

If you need help recruiting and managing remote and offshore workers, consider working with Manila Recruitment. The top recruitment agency in the Philippines can find the most qualified talents for your business. Contact us for more insights and tips on collaborating better with your foreign colleagues.