December 16th officially marks the beginning of the Christmas season. In the Philippines, it also means the start of Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo.
Nine Days, One Wish
Misa de Gallo is a unique Filipino tradition wherein people attend nine dawn masses before the Christmas Mass (December 16 to December 24). The mass usually begins around 4 o’clock in the morning and many say that if a devotee completes the nine masses, he/ she can make a wish. God will definitely grant that person’s wish or favor.
Honestly, I haven’t completed the nine masses. Not even once. Everyone knows how tough it is to wake up around 4AM, especially if you have school or work. But if you really want to attend the mass regardless of the wish, I believe anyone will be able to complete the nine masses.
Moreover, the nine masses in our community are sponsored by two families. Besides the gifts given during mass, the sponsors also provide a simple breakfast for those who attended. It’s a great way to show your appreciation and bond with your neighbors. I also think it’s a good way to urge people as well. 🙂
Filipino Christmas Delicacies
Speaking of breakfast, do you know the favorite Christmas delicacies of Filipinos? That would be Bibingka, a type of rice cake and Puto Bumbong, a purple-colored sticky rice cake with butter, grated coconut, and brown sugar partnered with a hot cup of tsokolate (chocolate).
These Christmas delicacies are sold after mass at the churchyard. But if you are attending masses in a village, may be you can serve this when you sponsor a mass. As mentioned earlier, our nine masses are sponsored by two families each. The usual breakfasts they provide are lugaw, goto, lomi, bread, coffee and tsokolate. Bringing these delicious delicacies can brighten their day even more!
Himig ng Pasko
When we attend the Misa de Gallo, we always leave our Christmas lights on. After the mass and breakfast, it’s always wonderful to see the lights and in a few minutes, the light from the sun. It is indeed magnificent.
But what would make the Christmas season even happier? All you need is music. There are various artists singing or releasing a Christmas single or album. Hearing these makes you cheerful and helps you get through the day. However, it is also nice to hear Christmas songs that speak to you.
Joey Albert, a Filipino singer released an album back in 1987 titled Maligayang Pasko under OctoArts. We have a few Christmas albums from local and foreign artists but this one is my favorite. It has 10 tracks and these are my top choices:
Pasko Na Naman – In English, it means that it is Christmas again. It talks about the many wonderful things Christmas bring in our hearts. The song starts softly and then enters the cheerful melody and realization its Christmas again, the special day we always longed for.
Pasko na namang muli.
Tanging araw na ating pinakamimithi.
Pasko na namang muli.
Ang pag-ibig naghahari!
Kumukutikutitap – The most cheerful song I know. It talks about the twinkling Christmas lights and how breathtaking they are.
Ganyan ang indak ng mga bumbilya
Kikindat – kindat, kukurap -kurap
Pinaglalaruan ng inyong mga mata
Noche Buena – This is a cheerful song about what each family member cook and how families prepare for the traditional Noche Buena feast.
Kay sigla ng gabi
Ang lahat ay kay saya
Nagluto ang Ate ng manok at tinola
Sa bahay ng Kuya ay mayro’ng litsonan pa
Ang bawat tahanan may handang iba’t iba
Misa de Gallo – A warm song that simply tells about the Misa de Gallo. From the rooster’s cluck which signifies the celebration is about to start to the meaning of Christmas, this song says it all.
Misa De Gallo sa simbahan
At nagtilaok na ang tandang
Tanda ng pagdiriwang at pagmisa
Paskong dakilang araw
Ulilang Pasko – The title Ulilang or Ulila means orphan. It tells about a child who is alone on Christmas. But this should not be the case. Every person should have candies, gifts, and happiness they deserve especially on Christmas.
Bakit may luha akong nakikita
Ngayon ay Pasko dapat masaya
Kendi’t regalo, ilaw sa puno
Maraming pangako dulot ang Pasko
Sabi nila Pasko’y masaya
Ano ang Pasko sa ulilang katulad ko
Indeed, Misa de Gallo marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Yes, Christmas the day we all yearn for. Lights and decorations are up. Gifts are under the Christmas tree. People are merry than usual and everyone is spreading the Christmas cheer. I hope you are too!
Don’t forget, also share your Christmas blessings with those in need.
Have a very Merry Christmas, dear reader!