Just 9 days to go before Christmas...and I couldn’t help but get nostalgic about the holiday celebration back home. It's not just about food and parties...it's rich in traditions, and that makes our celebration unique among other countries.
The Philippines is known for having the longest Christmas celebration in the world. Though it begins formally on December 16 with the start of the Simbang Gabi (a nine-day novena that culminates with the “Misa de Gallo” on Christmas Eve to welcome the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ) and continues until the first Sunday of January which is the Feast of the Epiphany, Christmas carols start ringing in the air and colorful lights and decorations can be seen everywhere as early as the first day of September. It's like four months of celebration!
When I was a kid, Christmas celebration starts in our home on the first weekend of October when my family and I set up our Christmas tree and hang parol (Christmas lanterns) by our windows. Following that would be the endless shopping and wrapping of gifts for our close friends and relatives. In the month of December, we used to observe Filipino traditions like going to Simbang Gabi (night mass) from Dec. 16-24, watching the Panuluyan (reenactment of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem) on Christmas Eve, having Noche Buena (Christmas Eve feast) and doing the Pagmamano (visiting godparents and elderly relatives) before noon of Christmas Day. And since my birthday falls on Christmas Day, we always had a party in the afternoon, and my late mom used to cook all kinds of Filipino food. I just love how food overflow in our house on this special day! It's one of my favorite things about Christmas! :)
Though we are now far away from home, I want Christmas to be fun for my daughters just as much as it was for me. Because it is impossible to do most of the Filipino traditions that I grew up with, all I can do is to start some new ones that can give my daughters the same wonderful holiday experience that I had. I believe that the secret to a memorable Christmas is doing things together with your loved ones without forgetting that Christ should be the center of it...so that's what we do! Together, we would put up the Christmas tree and other decorations the weekend before Thanksgiving...wrap Christmas presents...give gift to the Angel Tree at their school and at church...bake cookies for our friends...attend Advent masses and Christmas mass...and prepare for the Noche Buena feast that we've been hosting for the past seven years that we've been here in Texas. Every year, I cook a combination of Filipino and American food, and that's what I'm going to share for this month's Kulinarya Cooking Club Challenge. This month, Kulinarya's challenge is hosted by Joy of Gastronomy by Joy and Sherilyn of Senorita Sisa, and they've chosen Noche Buena as the theme.
So here it is...our Noche Buena Menu for this year which includes Chicken Sotanghon Soup that has always been part of our Christmas feast since I was a kid. It is such a comforting noodle soup that gives us warmth after attending the Misa De Gallo.
My daughters love this as much as I do. It may not be the star of our Noche Buena...but our feast won't be complete without it!
- 1/2 lb sotanghon (bean thread) noodles
- 2 cups chopped or flaked cooked chicken meat
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 3 Tbsp olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 medium sized carrot, julienned
- 3/4 cup green onions, chopped
- salt and pepper
1. Soak sotanghon in water for 15-20 minutes or until soft. You may cut the noodles with scissors to shorten lengths and make it more manageable to handle.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic until light brown.
3. Add chicken meat, carrots and onion. Saute until onion is almost translucent.
4. Add chicken stock and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Drop the sotanghon noodles in the soup and simmer for about 3 minutes or until noodles are tender and cooked.
5. Season with salt and pepper to suit your taste. Add 1/2 cup green onions. Simmer for another minute.
6. Transfer to individual serving bowls and garnish with remaining green onions. Serve hot!
And now, here's the entire menu:2011 Noche Buena Menu
- Chicken Sotanghon Soup -
- Green Bean Casserole -
- Beef Morcon -
- Roast Turkey -
- Menudo -
- Leche Flan -
- Haleyang Ube -
Don't forget to check out what other Kulinarya Cooking Club members will be whipping up for Christmas!!!
Have a wonderful Christmas celebration, everyone!!! :-*