Celebrate Santo Niño de Cebú- A Feast Day For The Christ Child

The feast day of Santo Niño de Cebú comes each year on the third Sunday in January, and is a big celebration through the country of the Philippines. This is a devotion that centers around an image of the Christ child, and celebrates the conversion of the Philippines to Christianity and attracts 1-2 million people per year. What a beautiful image of the Christ child to have a special devotion to! The festival itself is called Sinulog and lasts for days as novena Masses are said. Let’s take a look at how to celebrate Santo Niño de Cebú- a feast day for the Christ Child!

 

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I have been working to branch out and learn about more Catholic traditions from around the world and I am super excited about this one! My Papa was in the Air Force, and when my mom was middle school aged, they were stationed in the Philippines for several years. Because of her time there, she raised us with some of her favorite parts of living in the Philippines including dancing the tinikling, playing mancala, and eating lumpia. 

On top of that, our local parish here is run by the Adornos, and we often have Filipino priests, so this is an important celebration here as well, so I was very happy to learn about this fun and festive Catholic feast day! 

January is also a great month to celebrate a name of Jesus, as the month of January is dedicated to the most holy name of Jesus! 

Santo Niño de Cebú Quick Facts

  • Devoted to an image of the Christ Child
  • Celebration of Filipino conversion to Christianity
  • The Christ Child statue is a representation of a vision of St. Teresa of Avila (similar to the Infant of Prague) 
  • Festival is called Sinulo , meaning “like water current movement”- based on the movement of the dance itself. 
  • Attracts 1-2 million people each year in Cebú
  • The festival is known for street parties, parades, and dancing
  • The dance itself tells the History of the conversion of the Filipinos to Christianity 
  • The festival goes on for days, having a novena that leads up to the final celebration 

Santo Niño de Cebú Story:

This small wooden statue of the Christ Child that was based on a vision from St. Teresa of Avila. The statue was gifted to Raja Humbon from the explorer Magellan in 1521 and is the oldest Christian item in the Philippines. 

In 1565, the town of Cebú fell under attack, and over 1500 homes were destroyed. Miraculously, the statue of Santo Niño de Cebú was found completely unharmed under a pile of ash in a wooden box. A chapel was built on the place the statue was recovered. 

How To Recognize The Statue Of Santo Niño de Cebú:

The statue itself is based on a vision of the Christ Child from St. Teresa of Avila. So if you, like me, were thinking that it looks a lot like the Infant of Prague, you’d be correct! The Infant of Prague statue is actually thought to have belonged to St. Teresa of Avila herself! 

  • The Child Jesus is standing dressed in the robes of a king
  • He is dresses in ornate red robes with white flowers
  • He is wearing a large golden crown
  • Everything on the statue is very ornate
  • He is standing on a platform and you can see his little feet

You can see a traditional image of this devotion here.

Original Image of the Santo Niño de Cebu.jpg

Santo Niño de Cebú Feast Day 

The feast, locally known as Fiesta Señor, starts on the Thursday after the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Each year, the celebration starts with a dawn procession wherein the replica image of Santo Niño de Cebú is brought down to the streets. It is then followed by the novena Masses, which span nine days. –from Wikipedia

This festival goes on for days with one Mass being said for each day in the novena! This is a huge deal for Filipino Catholics. Check out this short video of them dancing with the Christ Child statues! In almost every clip from one of these ornate dances you can see a girl in the front dancing with the Santo Niño de Cebú statue. I absolutely love seeing Catholic culture like this from all over the world. 

 

A main day in this celebration is the 3rd Sunday of January, although the festival goes on for days as the Novena Masses are held. You can read more about their traditional celebrations here.



How To Celebrate Santo Niño de Cebú At Home

How you can celebrate this super amazing Catholic feast day at home? Here are some ideas to get you started!

Infant Jesus Products Available

Recipes To Try For The Santo Niño de Cebú Feast Day

The only recipe I could find that seemed actually associated with this feast day was a lecon (rolled pork belly) recipe, and if you’re feeling ambitious, by all means try it out! I’m also going to share some more simple Filipino recipes that could also be fun to try to this feast day.

  • Lumpia recipe– these are a type of Filipino fried spring roll, and they’re delicious! They are my favorite Filipino food.
  • Biko recipe– this is a type of Filipino sticky rice cake that’s made with coconut milk. It sounds really good!
  • Adobo chicken recipe– this would be a great choice to try for dinner, and I’m willing to bet you already have the ingredients you need to make this at home. 
  • Filipino empanada recipe– I have never tried the Filipino version of these but I truly love Venezuelan empanadas!
  • Picadillo recipe– this is a one pan dinner using ground beef, rice, potatoes, and vegetables.
  • Filipino sweet buns recipe– this would be a fun sweet treat to try your hand at.

Infant Jesus Crafts For Kids

You can print a free coloring page of the Infant Jesus over at Super Coloring, or you can color it online.

Q Is For Quilter has free printable embroidery patters for the Infant Jesus and St. Teresa of Avila. So cool! 

You can see some of my child peg dolls here, and I do like to have a collection of the Child Jesus, which includes Santo Niño de Cebú!

child jesus peg dolls

You could try your hand at crafting your own Infant of Prague medals! If you have one, you can use it as a mold. My kids love doing this!

It would also be perfect to make your own chaplets for praying the Chaplet to the Infant Jesus. Find my directions for DIY chaplets here.

I also found a cool Infant Jesus pocket shrine craft here. So cute!

More Catholic Resources For January

You can find more Saint feast days and fun ways to living the liturgical year in January here.

 
 

Check out my new printable liturgical calendar for Catholics! This includes all your major feast days and liturgical seasons along with holy days of obligation, solemnities, liturgical colors, well known Saint feast days, and more! This easy to use and beautiful calendar will be your best friend when planning out your liturgical year at home. There is both a free option and a paid option for downloading this liturgical calendar, so click here to find your options for downloading your own liturgical calendar

Comments

  1. I just want to say thank you for featuring this devotion. I am from Cebu and I miss this so much. I especially miss the novena and the procession the day before the parade.
    I actually miss those more than I miss lechon. Lol

  2. Lacey, I love how you are making an effort to learn more about Catholic culture around the world and share it with us. I learned a lot from this post. Thank you!

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