…a holiday hook up…
A Filipino Christmas tradition known as Simbang Gabi or “Night Mass”, is a series of dawn masses that start as early as 4 AM beginning on December 16th. This continues for nine days and ends at midnight, December 24th which is the Christmas Midnight Mass. These nine dawn Masses are also considered as a Novena by the Catholic faithful. This refers to the practice of performing nine days of private or public devotion to obtain special graces.
Simbang Gabi starts so early because of the experience of the Filipinos under the Spanish Regime. Introduced by the Spanish friars to allow the farmers to hear mass before the daily grind of going to the fields early in the morning, the tradition continues today but with several twists – colorful lights and lanterns fill nearly every street and beautiful parols are hung in every window. Songs of the season are played everywhere to warm the hearts. Families, friends and even individuals find its way going to the nearest church to attend the nine-day novena.
After hearing Mass, Filipino families partake of traditional Filipino holiday fare sold outside the church, either within the church precincts or with breakfast at home. For those not taking part in this celebration, Simbang Gabi may appear to be too much noise so early in the morning. But with a little reflection one can gain insight into the deeper meaning of this tradition: Simbang Gabi expresses the faith of Filipinos who hold the same faith as Christians, namely, that God is present in human history, even in the simple joys and anxieties of life’s humblest activities.
Also, the younger worshipers use this as an opportunity to meet their dates…
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Until next time!