Origin of Simbang Gabi

| December 12, 2014 | 1 Comment

Philippines is a Catholic country. Therefore, people are observing its traditions and activities all year round. During Christmas, Catholics observe the Simbang Gabi or Dawn Mass. How did the Simbang Gabi all started? The tradition of Simbang Gabi was first introduced by the Spanish friars to allow farmers to hear mass before they go to the fields early morning.

Simbang Gabi celebration starts from December 16 until the 24th.

Simbang Gabi celebration starts from December 16 until the 24th.

It is also known by its popular Spanish name as the Misa de Gallo or Mass of the Rooster. It is a Filipino Christmas belief, which is actually a series of nine (9) dawn masses which starts at 4:00 A.M., commencing on December 16 and ends at the midnight of December 24. In the olden days, the church bells started to ring as early as three o’ clock to wake people up so that they can get ready for the four o’clock dawn Mass. Across the nation, Roman Catholic churches start to open their doors shortly before the break of dawn to welcome the faithful to the Misa de Gallo Mass. Dawn Masses are also considered as a novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Catholic faithful. The faithful practices performing nine days of devotion to attain special graces. In the Catholic belief, completing the novena also means that God might give the devotee’s special wish. That is why, the it has become one of the most popular traditions in the country.

This is also an important moment because it strengthens relationships among family members and parishioners. Additionally, it is also the time wherein most people feel the presence of the Lord because it is the spiritual preparation for Christmas. Essentially, it does not matter if a parishioner completes the novena or not, what’s more important is the inner being of a devotee. The temporal and spiritual blessings do not depend on the number of masses that you had attended. But what is more important here, is the disposition of the person who wants to receive God’s blessings in His sweetest time. For many generations, the Filipino Faith communities have adopted the Simbang Gabi rituals of the olden times. For instance, candles and lanterns are used in some rural areas. On the other hand, most churches today have electric lights, lanterns and sound systems. Simbang Gabi had also keep up with the modern times because many parishes now celebrate the Mass in the evening as early as six o’clock in the evening to accommodate the parishioners different work schedules. No matter how it is celebrated, it gives a strong indication of the depthness of Catholicism in the hearts of the Filipinos.

Today, the tradition of Simbang Gabi continues wherever you are. Though you are it in the city or in the province it is celebrated in many innovative ways. Most churches are adorned with colourful lights and beautiful lanterns to welcome churchgoers. The Nativity or the Belen is shown to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Belen shows Baby Jesus in a manger with Mother Mary and Saint Joseph. There are shepherds and farm animals, the Three Wise Men who carried their gifts to Infant Jesus and the Star of Bethlehem that guided them in their journey. After the Mass, there are traditional delicacies that are being sold at several food stalls right outside the church. These popular delicacies include bibingka, rice cakes puto bumbong, suman sa ibos which are served with tea,salabat or coffee. Hot pandesal is very popular too.

The tradition of Simbang Gabi became a special Christmas custom and is one of the distinct features of Philippine culture. This is also one way of sharing our-selves with the Lord and with other people. Best of all, it a time for giving. Filipinos share what they have wholeheartedly.

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Comments (1)

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  1. jireh mae nengasca says:

    haie, I just want to correct you and please don’t take this seriously but you know I think you’re wrong about what you write at your first sentence. Philippines is not a Catholic Country, but instead it is a Christian Country, because not only Catholics are living here in the Philippines but Christians. Thank you.

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