Mango Stories: Simbang Gabi

One of the biggest Filipino traditions during the holiday season is an old practice called "Simbang Gabi". Directly translated, it means "Church Night", which is ironic because it is celebrated early in the morning. Originally, it was invented by Spanish friars so that farmers would be able to attend mass before going to their respective duties. In Spanish, this event is also called "Misa de Gallo" or "Mass of the Rooster" and churches are often decorated during this time, with trimmings, light and even a nativity scene.
Starting December 16, masses start as early as 4:00 am until the 24th, which will host a special midnight mass. The practice was such a big thing back in the day that churches would start ringing their bells as early as 3 am just to make sure everybody had time to dress up and attend the holy ceremony.
Even in modern days, the tradition still lives on. To the Filipino people, it isn’t just a tradition to keep alive but also a way to spiritually enlighten themselves for the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday.

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