Traditionally, Christmas Day in the Philippines is ushered in by the nine-day dawn masses that start on December 16 (and until December 25). Known as the Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass) in the traditional Spanish and in Filipino as Simbang Gabi, or “Night Mass”, this novena of masses is the most important Filipino Christmas tradition.
The Catholic faithful attend the midnight mass after which some enjoy the traditional food stalls that line the church yard. Rice cakes such as puto bongbong, bibingka and hot chocolate drinks or salabat (ginger tea) are sold and serve to churchgoers and passers-by. With the nippy air and the twinkle of Christmas lights the Simbang Gabi recalls the Christmas rites of bygone years.
Long live Pinoy Christmas!