SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Dec. 15 (PIA) — For most Catholic devotees here and abroad, Christmas season will not be complete without attending the “Simbang Gabi” literally means mass at night.
The nine-day series of dawn masses from December 16 to 24 as early as 4 or 5 a.m. has been one of the longest and most loved festival of Filipinos because each are reminded on their faith by celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Today, because of the growing number of mass goers, the Simbang Gabi is not only said in the early morning hours but also in the evenings.
In fact, the dawn masses came to be called “Misa de Aguinaldo” by the Spaniards which means “gift masses” and were later introduced to the Philippines from Mexico.
According to Brenda P. Tuazon of the Manila Bulletin, the Simbang Gabi has become an essential part of the Filipinos’ Christmas traditions.
Filipinos all over the world have adopted this practice as spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ on Christmas day.
One common experienced are family members or circle of friends who wake up in the wee hours of the morning to hear mass and later have early breakfast of bibingka, puto bumbong, salabat and tsokolate.
Fr. Tirso Villaverde, contributing editor of Filipino American Newsmagazine moreover explained that the nine days of prayer “Was not just meant to be one long “party.” The nine-day prayer was also meant to be a time when Filipino Catholics would learn more about the faith they embraced and rededicate themselves to living out that faith in everything they say and do.
The Simbang Gabi has a very spiritual purpose of encouraging Filipino Catholics to practice the faith every day of their life, he further said.(ANL/MHH with reports from http://pinoynewsmagazine.com/2010/11/the-simbang-gabi-novena/)