Simbang Gabi is a Philippine tradition that was introduced by the Spanish friars to allow the farmers to hear mass before going to the fields early in the morning. It is also known by its popular Spanish name as the Misa de Gallo, or “Mass of the rooster”. Simbang Gabi means dawn mass. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1587. It was introduced by the Spanish Missionaries to encourage the faith of the Filipino people. It is a series of nine early morning Masses (novena), starting as early as 4:00a.m.
The tradition begins on December 16th and ends at midnight of December 24th (the Midnight Mass) with Noche Buena. During the Simbang Gabi days, most churches open their doors before the break of dawn to welcome church goers.
To wake people up, church bells start ringing as early as 3 o’clock in the morning. Bright Christmas lights and colorful parols (lanterns) decorate houses and the church.
Parols (Philippine Lanterns)
In the Philippines, the parol has become an iconic symbol of the Filipino Christmas. A star-shaped paper lantern, made of bamboo strips pasted with papel de japon (Japanese paper), illuminated by a candle or kalburo (carbide). The shape is said to be inspired by the star on the Nativity of Jesus that guided the Magi to the manger
Parols are associated also with the Simbang Gabi (Misa de Gallo) and also symbolize the victory of light over darkness and the Filipinos’ hope and goodwill during the Christmas season.
Parol was adapted by barrio folks to light their paths during this annual ritual dawn Masses, due to electricity being unavailable at the time. These then remain until January, traditionally removed after Epiphany, to honour the Three Kings and their visit to the Child Jesus. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parol)
St. Lambert Novena Mass
Join us in one of the Novena Masses of Simbang Gabi here in St. Lambert Parish in Skokie. The St. Lambert’s Simbang Gabi will be on December 20, Saturday at 6:30 in the evening.
A short cultural presentation and a “salu-salu” will follow the Mass.
Article source: St Lambert Parish Bulletin, http://en.wikipedia.org