Today, December 16, marks the first day of simbang gabi or Misa de Gallo, an annual tradition where evening masses are celebrated from December 16 to the 24th.
Nowadays the prospect of simbang gabi has developed a certain culture of sorts, somewhat seen as an awesome occasion for all people, religious and not.
Back then however, this tradition has molded a solemn and sacred environment for churchgoers.
Not that today is any indication of the opposite, but it’s best we know the difference between yesterday and today’s version of the cultural celebration. Here are 9 things to know about simbang gabi:
Why is simbang gabi usually held at dawn?
The concept of simbang gabi in the Philippines originated back in the Spanish colonial era, where friars were mostly Spaniards and most Pinoys were agricultural laborers.
Pinoys would get up way before sunrise to harvest, a routine that carried over to their religion.
With harvest season coinciding with the Christmas season, friars and priests discovered that Pinoys will hear mass even in the most ungodly hours.
Simbang gabi is losing its sacredness
Priests have long been noticing the usual antics made by churchgoers that they have developed nicknames to those who painfully practice the tradition.
Hanging out outside the church and not actually hearing mass is called simbang tabi, using the church to meet up with their ladyloves is called simbang ligawan, and sleeping during the mass is labeled as simbang tulugan.
Does watching simbang gabi on TV count?
Why yes, but masses broadcasted on TV are meant for the sick, handicapped, and the elderly who cannot afford to attend the Misa de Gallo in church.
Masses will be aired on Studio 23 and ABS-CBN at 6-7pm by the SVD Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. (MCFI). But waking up is enough an effort, so go ahead and attend anyway why don’t you?
Who do we pray to during simbang gabi?
The novena of Misa de Gallo is actually intended for the Blessed Virgin Mary, honoring her and preparing ourselves for the birth of Jesus Christ, which would occur in December 25.
This centuries-old tradition encourages us to pray to Mary, but the Lord is readily available for prayers too.
WORDS BY MIKEY AGULTO
IMAGE FROM KEEPING THE FAITH (2000)