A Filipino Christmas Tradition: Monito Monita Gift Exchange
What Is Monito Monita?
Christmas is the season of gift giving. In keeping with the tradition of giving, Filipinos have their own version of exchanging gifts called "Monito Monita." Like Secret Santa, this is usually done among groups of friends, classmates, or officemates.
The mechanics are easy. You have to give your Monito or Monita a small gift every day or every week. The frequency depends on the rules the group have set, and usually there is an agreed-upon amount that the gift will cost.
What Are the Rules and Variations?
The mechanics of the exchange can vary. Some can be as simple as asking the participants to bring a gift based on an agreed amount, and then those gifts are later raffled off to the participants at the Christmas party. Other exchanges start several weeks ahead of the gift-giving time, which is usually the Christmas party.
Draw a Name (And Keep It a Secret)
In the long-form version of the game, all of the participants' names are placed in a box. Each member of the group draws a name from the box, and whoever you get will be your Monito/Monita. The name you draw is the person you have to buy a Christmas present for. You cannot reveal your Monito/Monita's name—it will be a secret until the "Revelation Day." As the song goes: "I love my Monito, yes I do / I love my Monito, but I won't tell you . . ."
Exchange Wish Lists (Optional)
In some cases, all the participants have to post their "wish list" of gifts they want to receive so that it won't be hard for the giver to decide what to give their Monito/Monita (and so that you will receive a gift you have been hoping for).
Don't Ask to Trade Names
Remember: Don't ask to trade names with anyone. Maybe you don't know the person, or perhaps you're nervous to give your boss or teacher a gift. No matter what your reason is, never ask anyone to trade names with you—it could get back to the person, and they may feel you have something against them. If your Monito or Monita is someone you don't like, then Christmas is the time to forget your differences.
Choose a Gift Theme
Most groups choose a theme each week, such as:
- something soft
- something sweet
- something long and hard
- something green or blue
- something round
- something you make, cook, or bake
- something pink
- something useful
- something wet
- something made of wood or fabric
- something you can wear on your head
- something made of glass
- something with a handle
- something sour
- something that grows
It can be a lot of fun to see the different ideas people come up with, and it gets everyone in the holiday spirit.
Enjoy Revelation Day!
Receiving gifts from a secret source for days or weeks can be quite exciting and mysterious. The identity of the giver is only known on the "Revelation Day," when the final gift is given to each participant's Monito or Monita. Then you can finally say, "Merry Christmas, my Monita!"