Simbang gabi is a nine day novena celebrated in the Philippines as a part of the Christmas celebration. Simbang is the official start of the Christmas celebration in the Philippines making it the longest country to celebrate Christmas not like other country who starts the celebration at the 24th of the December or the Christmas Eve and ends at the feast of epiphany.
Simbang Gabi is one of the most popular traditions in the country. During this celebration families strengthens relationships and Christian faith are intensified. This is the time where we mostly feel the presence of the Lord because it is the spiritual preparation for Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. It does not matter if one has the stamina to complete the novena or not, what really matters is what is inside the heart. The blessing does not depend on the number of mass attended, but what is important is the disposition of the person who receives the Lord’s blessing.
Why does Simbang Gabi celebrated at dawn?
Ancient Filipino’s are not businessman, doctor, lawyer or engineer but rather farmers who start their day early in cultivating their farmlands for a living and their only time to attend mass is during dawn, so the people decided to schedule it at the earliest time in order for them to participate.
Simbang gabi is also called Misa de Galyo from the Spanish word Misa de Gallo which means mass of the cock because the crow of the male chicken is a sign for the families to wake up and attend the mass, Misa Aguinaldo from the Spanish word Misa de Aguinaldo which means mass of the present, this is celebrated every dawn before Christmas. Simbang gabi also serves as novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary.