As a Filipino, one of the traditional values that have remained strong and very integral to us is our love for celebrating different occasions or festivities. We celebrate every significant event in our lives such as birthdays, baptismal, anniversaries, promotions, graduations and so many others.
Christmas is one of the most important seasons that we celebrate. And we, Filipinos, actually do celebrate the longest Christmas in the world. For it starts, when the “ber” seasons arrives --- October, September, November, and December; and even lasted till the 6th day of January (for the celebrations of the “3 kings”).
One of the most known traditions of the Filipinos during Christmas is the “Simbang Gabi” or Misa de Gallo in Spanish. It is a 9 consecutive pre-dawn mass. It starts as early as 4 o’clock in the morning of the 16th of December which will be on Wednesday of next week (for this year). But I believe there are some churches which do it in the evening, around 9 till 10 o’clock in the evening or 10 till 11 o’clock in the evening, if I’m not mistaken. I attended the simbang gabi before but I never really able to complete the 9-day masses…hehe ^_^
Usually, during Simbang Gabi there are food stalls outside churches which sells Filipino known “Christmas delicacies” (delicacies which are often sold during Christmas seasons only) such as “puto bumbong” (the purple colored glutinous rice cakes) and the “bibingka”. So, after attending/hearing masses, some churchgoers gathered out in the churchyard and dropped by at those food stalls to buy such delicacies for their breakfast.
The simbang gabi is known to be the time wherein families and other devotees gather and prepare themselves spiritually for the coming of Christ. But nowadays, it seems that some or most of the people who attends it, forgets the real meaning or significance of it. Because, it already becomes a social gathering for some, wherein they just go to church to meet and socialize with their friends, boyfriends/girlfriends and the like. There are also some, who just complete the Simbang Gabi because they just want their wishes to come true. For there are traditional beliefs, that when you complete the Simbang Gabi, God will grant whatever your wishes are. But I still hope and pray, that those kinds of people will soon realize again, that “Simbang Gabi” is not just a popular traditions that we, Filipinos, celebrate or a social gathering but “it’s the time which our faith is being intensified”. Because it’s the spiritual preparation for His coming. And we should always bear in mind that its blessings doesn’t depends on how many masses we’ve attended. It doesn’t matter if we don’t have the stamina to complete it, what important is what’s inside our hearts and that we knew the real significance of it.