Filipinos are said to celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world. At the start of the “ber” month, the air is filled with carols and people do not take down Christmas decors until the feast of the Three Kings is over.
“Misa de Gallo” (rooster’s mass), or “Misa de Aguinaldo” (gift mass), interchangeably, signals the official start of the season. But why on such an ungodly hour? In the old times, when the roosters crow at the break of dawn, the farmers and fishermen made it their alarm clock to wake up early and drop by the church before going to work for grace and good harvest. Farmers had to be in the field and fishermen had to be at sea before sunrise.
Simbang Gabi traces its origin to Mexico when monastic monk Fray Diego de Soria received permission from the Vatican in 1587 to hold the nine-day novena mass outdoor at dawn to accommodate the deluge of the faithful. This is indeed a panata of many Filipinos or spiritual preparation to commemorate the coming of our Savior.
After the service, Filipinos enjoy puto bumbong, bibingka, tsokolate de batirol, and salabat.
Novena ends on Christmas Eve, which concludes with a Noche Buena feast after midnight. These practices have managed to carry on from generation to generation. They provided the whiff of something inherited which with the sense of identity and continuity promote respect for our cultural heritage – in this instance, intangible!
* – credits to the owner/s for the pictures