A Filipino Christmas Tradition: Monito Monita Gift Exchange
"I love my monita/monito... Yes I do; I love my monita/monito. Yes I do, but I won't tell you..."
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." This is usually done among groups of friends, classmates, or office mates.
The mechanics of the exchange varies, some can be as simple as asking the participants to bring a gift based on an agreed amount. Those gifts are later on 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.
In the long-form version, all of the participants names are placed in a box, and each member draws a name from the box, and whoever you got will be your Monito/Monita. The name you drew 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.
The Rules Are Simple:
The mechanics are easy. You have to give your Monito/Monita a small gift every day or every week, the frequency depends on the rules the group have set upon.
Most group 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 / bake
- something pink
- something useful
- something wet
- something made of wood / fabric
- something you can wear in 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 get everyone in the holiday spirit.
The identity of the giver is only known at the "Revelation Day" when the final gift is given to participants' Monito or Monita, usually there is an agreed amount on how much the gift will cost.
In some cases, all the participants have to post their "wish list" about what gift they want to receive so that it won't be hard for the giver to decide on what to give their Monito /Monita, and you will receive a gift you have been hoping for.
Just a Reminder
Don't ask to trade names with anyone.
Maybe you don't know the person or perhaps you're nervous to give the boss or your teacher a gift. No matter what is your reason, 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, Christmas is the time to forget your differences.