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!
Salabat is hot ginger tea made by boiling crushed ginger in water. Brown sugar or honey is used to sweeten the beverage. Kamote (sweet potato), sago, or carabao’s milk are added by some to salabat.
Salabat is found to have healing properties and is used to ease cold symptoms and stomach aches. It soothes sore throats and is said to sweeten the singing voice.
Salabat tea is now available in powdered form for convenience in preparation. It is a favorite drink during the cold season, and is often given drunk during cold nights. The drink is also popular during the Christmas season and is often drunk or served with bibingka (rice cake) and puto bumbong (steamed rice cake) outside churches after Simbang Gabi (Misa de Gallo).
Long live Philippine traditions!
Filed under Food, Traditions