SIMBANG GABI STARTS TODAY on FILIPINO-TV.INFO!
MANILA, Philippines - The traditional Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi that kicks off the Christmas season in the Philippines begins today. - Bebot Sison, The Philippine Star
Among the Filipino Christmas traditions, none could be more embedded in the local culture than the Simbang Gabi, the pre-dawn Mass that brings the faithful from villages nationwide to churches.
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The tradition dates back to 1587 in Mexico when the Pope granted the petition of Fray Diego de Soria, prior of the convent of San Agustin Acolman, to hold Christmas Mass outdoors in order to accommodate the huge number of people that overflowed from the church during the evening Mass.
The Christmas Mass is held early in the morning to symbolize the actual time of the birth of Christ, but this was eventually adjusted to pre-dawn hours for the convenience of churchgoers.
The Spanish conquistadores introduced the morning Mass in the Philippines as early as the 17th century.
Simbang Gabi starts with the ringing of church bells, and the flickering candles of the star-shaped lanterns that adorn the humble houses light the churchgoers’ way.
In some rural areas, brass bands play Christmas carols while walking around town an hour before the Mass to enjoin the faithful to go to church.
There are stories that in earlier times, the parish priest
would go around and knock on doors to wake up the faithful to attend the Misa de Gallo.
Farmers and fisherfolk who work early were able to attend Mass before going to the farm or the sea.
Despite the changes brought by modern society, the Simbang Gabi continues to be the bedrock of the Catholic Christmas celebration.
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