Four local Filipino families reflect on a Filipino tradition transplanted to Moosomin

Filipino tradition celebrated at St. Marys Church

December 23, 2018 4:32 pm

Simbang Gabi is a Filipino Christmas tradition. Literally it means “Night Mass.” It is customarily celebrated as a series of nine daily masses, starting as early as 4 am. It begins on December 16 and ends on midnight the 24 of December, which is the Midnight mass.

The importance of this festivity to Filipinos, is that it prepares for the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. It is a time to unite one another to celebrate the love of God for all of us. And a thanksgiving to God for all the graces and blessings that we received, especially for the gift of Jesus who was born for us.

The religious nature and tradition of the Simbang Gabi involves the sacrifice of rising early and attending mass, many believing that the novena can obtain for them favours from the Christ child Jesus.

It is a chance to participate in an important tradition of their parents, grandparents and relatives, and a way of unifying them with family and friends separated from themselves and living elsewhere in the world. It is also a strong indication of the depth of Catholicism among the Filipino people and a sign of respect, in celebration and preparation for Christmas—the event it anticipates.

Moreover, it is celebrated in an atmosphere of joy that motivates families to keep and hold on to their faith. The faith, which we persevere and wish for the best to come into our lives.

Food is an important part of Simbang Gabi. A time of dining rather than fasting. Another favourite tradition of Filipino families is to partake of food after mass. Traditional delicacies await the church goers with popular favourites such as babingka, puto, puto-bungbong, suman sa pasko, suman sa ibos and hot pandesal, served with tea or coffee.

This year, the novena of Simbang Gabi honoring the blessed mother and prepanng for Christ’s birth will be celebrated each day from Sunday, December l6 to Sunday, December 23, ending with the midnight mass on December 24.

The Novena of Simbang Gabi (Masses) and prayers have been celebrated every evening at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Moosomin, at 7 pm, from December 16 to the 23, culminating with Christmas Eve mass celebrated at 8 pm on December 24.

Following, some local Moosomin Filipino families reflect on Simbang Gabi

Rodgriguez Family

Simbang Gabi is a Filipino tradition in preparation for Christmas. It is a mass for nine consecutive days as early as 4 am from December 16 to 24.

Simbang Gabi reunite friends and strengthen family culture and values, going to church everyday with friends and family make us closer to each other. After the mass we enjoy our native delicacies like puto bumbong and bibingka.

I am very grateful to have Simbang Gabi in Moosomin, this means we can still continue our tradition even though we are in a different country. - Ritchie Rodriguez

Ilustrisimo Family

Upon hearing from a friend that St. Mary’s Catholic Church will be having a service called “Simbang Gabi” or “night mass,” I was thrilled and happy. It brings back memories of way back when we were in the Philippines, we had to rise early and attend the mass. Simbang Gabi usually starts at 4 in the morning, I remembered me and my family have to walk from home to the church for like 1.5 kms, you can feel the Christmas breeze and you can see some food vendors in the street selling traditional delicacies such as puto-bumbong and bibingka.

We, the Catholic Filipinos here in Moosomin are so lucky and thankful that our church is giving us a chance to participate on this important tradition in our culture.

But it is not just a tradition that is celebrated because we need to do so. It is a significant moment not only because it strengthens relationships among family members but also because it is the time where our faith is 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. - Gina Ilustrisimo

Ricardo Family

Not sure if anyone of you knew but Simbang Gabi itself is a Filipino Christmas tradition. It is a spiritual preparation for Christmas commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a nine day Novena of Masses adapted from Catholic Misa de Gallo which literally means Mass of the Rooster. To indicate it is held when the rooster crows

The celebration itself is seen as way of requesting blessing from the Lord, as most people believe that if one completes the whole series of nine dawn masses, wishes will be granted.

In the Philippines, shortly after the mass, traditional delicacies awaits the church goers, there are food stalls right outside the church, popular favorites are bibingka, puto (known as rice cakes), puto bungbong, suman sa pasko, suman sa ibos usually served with tea and coffee.

Simbang gabi provides a strong indication of the depth of Catholicism among Filipino people. We are beyond blessed that such tradition is made available to us by our local church here in Moosomin. Christmas season, is a season of joy, of peace and of great tidings. Simbang gabi is a reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season. -Marilyn Ricardo

Valdez Family

Simbang Gabi is a prominent tradition of the Filipino Catholics. It is a 9 days devotional series of mass held every 4 am in the morning from December 16 to December 24.

Basically it is a long, long time tradition originated from Catholic ancestors passed on generations to generations, something everyone’s looking forward to when December comes.

Since we are in different country I can say that this tradition is one of those we really missed. Getting up as early as 3:30 am and attend mass, singing Christmas carols and rice cakes (Bibingka) and Puto Bumbong with a cup of tea or coffee with family and Mends after attending the mass everyday.

It’s been five years of not having Christmas in the Philippines, learned to embrace how we celebrate holidays here but still missing how it is in our country and longing to feel that kind of happiness once again in the fixture. - Jylenn Valdez