Simbang Gabi or Midnight Mass Celebration is the highlight of the Christmas season, a significant event which we celebrate yearly during December to remember the birth of our Lord. This tradition which has been handed down to us by the Spaniards is being conducted in all the Catholic Churches in the Philippines and in other parts of the world. As a bonafide Roman Catholic, we see to it that we join the series of nine (9) Midnight Mass celebrations (sometimes referred to as Aguinaldo Mass) starting the sixteenth (16th) of December up to the twenty-fourth (24th) or the Christmas Eve.
"The Quiapo Church"
Simbang Gabi was an adaption of the 'Misa de Gallo' which literally means the Mass of the Roosters because it is the time when roosters started to crow. The celebration would start at 4:30 in the morning, a time which most people are still sleeping because, in the Philippines, this time of the day is still dark and cold.
Simbang Gabi was adapted from the Catholic Misa de Gallo, which literally means “Mass of the rooster,” to indicate it is held when the rooster crows. This event dates back to the time when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi celebrated the first feast of the Nativity in the year 1565 in the Philippine archipelago.
The Spirit of Christmas
Here is a video depicting the Christmas tradition of the Filipinos as we celebrate the Midnight Mass.
It is a touching moment seeing a flock of people coming to the church near their places to attend the mass. Despite the fact that almost everyone is busy with their work, people would give time for celebrating the mass as a welcome event for the birthday of our Lord. A tradition that is worth keeping and hoping that this would be continuously done for the next generations to come.
As Roman Catholics, we believe that Christmas is the biggest event because this is the time when Jesus Christ, the King of Kings was born. We believe that Christmas is the time of giving, sharing, forgiving and being with the family. Just like when God gave his Son in order to save the people.
Last year, there was a vehicle that roamed around the city with Santa Claus riding on it playing a loud music and a "Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas" phrase repeatedly before the mass started. This serves as a wake-up call and an invitation to all the residents to attend the mass.
After the mass, I've seen the Santa Claus giving candies to children. I hope this practice would be adapted to other areas too.
The Native Delicacies
"A photo of puto-bumbong being cooked"
I still remember the time when I was attending the Simbang Gabi with my grandmother wherein after the mass, we could find different native delicacies being sold around the church area. The smell of Puto Bumbong along with the cold wind unto my face is an indication that the Christmas season is truly in the air. Unfortunately, this is only a part of a memory.
With my current place, being surrounded by malls and other big edifices, seldom that I could taste these kinds of foods even this Christmas season. How I wish to I could also learn how to cook puto bumbong and bibingka.
"A photo of bibingka"
Nowadays, I and my husband would usually proceed to the Boulevard after the mass and we would spend time there watching the sunrise and the beautiful view of the majestic Mayon Volcano. There are also several people selling native foods and buko (young coconut) in the area.
"The Legazpi Boulevard in Puro, Legazpi City"
Sometimes, we would go to Cagsawain Busay, Daraga, Albay to have a clearer view of the Mayon Volcano. both places are accessible via motorcycle. I hope that it won't rain tomorrow so we could proceed to Boulevard or to Cagsawa Ruins.
"A view of Mayon Volcano from the Cagsawa Ruins in Busay, Daraga, Albay"
I am looking forward to this occasion because being a busy wife, seldom that I can have a time due to the nature of my work. christmas season is the only season of the year when we can be together because of the work holidays. This year's first day of Simbang Gabi falls on a Saturday.
The Most Awaited Season
Christmas is the most awaited season of the year for Filipinos and everyone are too excited for its coming that we were tagged as the country with the longest Christmas celebration. Christmas spirit can be felt as soon as the BER months started.
The flickering Christmas lights, the Christmas trees, and lanterns which give life to the whole city. It's truly a wonderful season that makes everyone happy.
Christmas nowadays has become more commercialized that most people seem to forget the real essence of the celebration.
How Do You Spend Your Christmas?
We are too excited for the party events happening in every corner, the gifts, the expensive gowns, tuxedo, costly accessories and other glittering appurtenances. These and worldly things and activities seem to be the focus of the season for us.
Well, there is nothing wrong for us to enjoy. This occasion only happens once in a year. It is just fair for us to enjoy and be happy. After all, we are spending our own money on the events. However, let us not forget the real meaning of Christmas.
Let us set aside a portion of our blessings to be shared with others who might be in need. Those people who might not be as fortunate as we are. A small portion of what we have might mean the whole thing for them.
This is also a season to give love, to give and forgive those who might have done wrong to us. Remember, ending the year with a happy heart is better than having all the riches with a heavy heart.
Apart from the Christmas decorations, hymns, gifts and other festivities, let us not forget to set aside a time for the Lord who shall be celebrating His birthday on this day. God gave us the greatest gift on this day, through his son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Here is another video of a popular Christmas song, Oh Come All Ye Faithful. Hope you like it.
Thank you for watching. Meanwhile, here is a Querlo Chat for you:
Written for Bitlanders:
by: Sharon Lopez
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Sharon Lopez is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Commerce Major in Banking and Finance and currently working in the government handling programs on Business Friendly and Competitive LGUs.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are that of the author and does not in any way represent the agency or department she currently belongs.