For Filipinos who are Catholic, they will celebrate Simbang Gabi mean, meaning “night mass” or “evening mass” or “Misa de Gallo” (rooster’s mass). It is a nine day novena in honor of Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ the Savior. It is celebrated by going to mass everyday from the 16th of December to Christmas eve December 24th. Most churches celebrate the mass at dawn. When I was growing up we usually go to church at 4 am. Still sleepy at first, sleepiness would be gone after the mass starts. We had to go with my family. We enjoyed seeing our other families there too.
In the Philippines, most streets that lead to the church are lit up with Christmas lights or lanterns (parol), the lights I guess are signifying the star that led the wise men to the birth of Jesus Christ. In our province when I was growing up after the mass the church had a bit food at the back. After the mass, any church goers can partake the snacks. It’s for everyone. Not sure now though if some small church still do that kind of thing.
For you people that live near the catholic church. Have you noticed the church bell keeps ringing from the early hours during this time of Evening Mass? The church will keep ringing that bell for people to rise up from sleep in preparation for the Simbang Gabi. Some churches start the bell ringing at 2:00 am, and don’t be surprised if a band might roam around your street / neighborhood for a celebration and to wake you up.
Our helper goes to church now and she really goes everyday. She told me that at the churches she goes to it’s overflowing with people. That’s why she goes earlier for her to get a place to sit down. She told me that it’s mostly the whole family that attends the mass. Some families after church will have breakfast together and eat the Filipino delicacies.
I think in Manila they have mass during night time. Honestly Simbang gabi should be celebrated at night. Just by the name alone Simbang Gabi means “Evening Mass”, it should be during night time. Some churches here in Mindanao might celebrates during night time and I’m just not aware of it. When I studied in Cebu back in the 1980’s, they celebrates Simbang Gabi there during dawn too. This celebration could be regional, but I’m not totally sure of it though. If you or your church celebrates during night time here in the Mindanao and the Visayas to drop us a note here.
I think Filipinos in the USA also attend Simbang Gabi. I think Filipino priest there have Simbang Gabi mass. I think in California area they do have Simbang Gabi. They welcome everyone that wants to attend the mass. Check at your local parish church if they have. I would not be surprised if some areas in Europe have Simbang Gabi too, especially if they have many Filipino people in the area and with a Filipino priest that lives there that might be easily approved by the head of the church in your area.
Enjoy attending the Simbang Gabi with your family. Lets pray for peace and love for this holiday season. Hope everyone will have a good Christmas celebration and have a great New Year ahead too. Praying for our troops that fought for our freedom. Have a safe celebration everyone.
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!!