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Friday, December 9, 2011

What to do in the Philippines : Simbang Gabi

 Celebrating Christmas in the Philippines will not be complete without attending Simbang Gabi(Evening Mass), a nine-day Roman Catholic ritual novena which starts from December 16 and ends on December 24. Simbang Gabi usually performed as early as 4 or 5 in the morning.The last day of the Simbang Gabi, which is Christmas Eve, is called Misa de Gallo, which literally translates to "Rooster's Mass"


History
The Simbang Gabi originated not just out of devotion, but also due to practicality. In the 333 years that Spain ruled the Philippines, it was customary for the friars and priests (known then as frailes y cura parrocos) to celebrate Holy Mass for the multitudes of Filipinos living in the barrios. In less than two generations after the arrival of the Spaniards, or by 1600, the greater part of the islands have been successfully converted to the Catholic faith.
Simbang Gabi starts so early because of the experience of the Filipinos under the Spanish Regime.
An agricultural country famed for its rice fields and coconut and sugarcane plantations, families then started their day even before the sun would rise. Many farmers (also known as sacadas, campesinos, and casamacs) toiled all day. They only had a break during noon everyday, when the scorching sun would be at its peak. Losing an hour due to the inhospitable temperature, farmers worked very hard and budgeted their time wisely unless they incur the ire of the local encargado, or administrator of the Spanish lord or encomendero / hacendero.
In between the planting season and harvest, there is a lull in the back breaking work imposed on the Filipinos out in the fields. Those who are old enough to sustain manual labor are gathered under the "tributo" system whereby they would have to work for free for the Spanish government, where they were tasked to build everything from cobblestone streets, the felling of trees for new government buildings and other projects. The women also have their share of work. Besides tending to their vegetable gardens or tumana, they were conscripted to work as household help for the local political elite.
The Filipinos worked non stop in the plantations and homes of the ruling Spaniards. Nonetheless, when the annual Christmas season would begin, it was customary to hold novenas around the entire country. The friars and the priests saw that the people, although tired and numb from work, wanted to hear the word of the Lord, even before toiling out in the fields yet again. As a compromise, the clergy began to hold Mass early dawn when the land would still be dark, a break in tradition prevalent in Spain and her Latin American colonies.
Filipinos came by the countless multitudes and afterwards, it became a distinct feature in Philippine culture to celebrate Holy Mass at such a rather early time.(wikipedia.com)
 Other Custom related to Simbang Gabi

Foods

After hearing Mass, Filipino families partake of traditional Filipino holiday fare sold outside the church, either within the church precincts or during breakfast at home. Vendors offer a wealth of native delicacies, including bibingka (rice flour and egg-based cake, cooked using coal burners above and under); putò bumbóng (a purple, sticky rice delicacy steamed in bamboo tubes, with brown sugar and shredded dried coconut meat served as condiments); salabát (hot ginger tea); or tsokoláte (thick hot cocoa). These are the typical breakfast treats after Simbang Gabi. In some Aglipayan churches, the congregation is invited after Mass to partake of the "paínit" (after-Mass snacks of delicacies with coffee or cocoa) at the house of the sponsor of the Mass.

Make A wish

Many Filipino catholic believes that you can make a wish on the first day of the mass and when you completed the nine day mass, your wish will be granted.

2 comments:

Si Inong ay ako said...

excited here for simbang gabi. :)

Julie Ivie Buere Orido said...

Yes. Simbang gabi is really one of the activities of Filipinos. It's already a tradition that every Christmas season people wake up around 3 in the morning to prepare for this. Aside from simbang gabi, there are also other activities like Flores de mayo, check out http://julieivieorido.blogspot.com/ for more.

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