All You Need to Know About Simbang Gabi | Condo Tips

Dec 27, 2021

The Philippines is not just known for its prolonged celebration of Christmas, which starts as early as the month of September. The country also happens to have long-living traditions during the Christmas season - one of which is the famous Simbang Gabi.

Misa de Gallo (Mass of the rooster) as also mostly known, are pre-dawn or night masses in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It begins 16th of December, the 15th for the evening masses, and ends on the 24th. A tradition where Filipino Catholics are bound by their faith and gather together. But what are the things one must know about such a famous and rich tradition?

An advent to honor the newborn Jesus, Blessed Virgin Mary

Simbang Gabi is more than just a practice that is needed to be celebrated yearly. It is, most importantly, a spiritual preparation for Christmas that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. 

The Catholic church dedicates these nine masses to honor the Virgin Mary. But as time passes by, and as the church also evolved, Pope Sixtus V has added additional intentions of the mass, these are:

  1. Glorifying Holy Mother Church
  2. Having the True Faith of the newly baptized natives preserved and; 
  3. Spreading the Holy Catholic Faith

Moreover, the most important intention of the mass is by allowing the Filipinos to reflect on the challenges that they encountered in the past year, allocate time to invoke a peaceful nation and give gratitude to all the blessings they acquired during the whole year.

Simbang Gabi in a Pre-modern Era

Simbang gabi during the olden days is far way more different from how we practiced it today. This long-lived custom was first introduced and brought by the Spanish friars from Mexico into the country. The initial purpose of such an early time is to allow the masses, especially the farmers, to hear mass before going into the fields early in the morning.

The church bells start ringing as early as three o’clock to wake the people in the community for them to get ready. Some records say that parish priest would personally knock on doors to gather people. In urban areas, on the other hand, a brass band will play some Christmas music - so if such practice is still alive, then solemn music at an early time is great to start the day, or a priest knocking every condo in the Philippines will probably take effort to do.

Why is it banned for 9 years?

It was an unknown fact that Simbang Gabi was once banned in the country, along with other nations like Spain and Mexico, during the 1600s. Manila Archbishop Felipe Pardo implemented the Vatican decree disallowing the staging of the mass. This prevented Filipinos from attending the Simbang Gabi at that time. The reason for the banning is to prevent choirs and churchgoers from singing Christmas songs in their own languages as it is deemed to be perverse. The discontinuation also suppressed the mass services.

The ban lasted nine years, from 1680 to 1689. The tradition then continued after the death of Archbishop Pardo. The reason for banning is kind of shallow and is petty, but given the strict and conservative era of such times makes the decision unsurprising.

Completing the 9 masses for wishes to come true

It is not only the Misa de Gallo a tradition in itself, there are also numerous beliefs that became long-lasting. Another reason why Filipinos are so invested in attending and completing the nine masses, either in the dawn or in the evening, is because of the belief that wishes will come true if one completes them.

Although the church strongly condemns this reason, saying that simbang gabi is more than just that, people still have such an inevitable faith. After all, there is nothing wrong with that belief. What matters the most is that Filipinos share the same faith and are bound with such spiritual beliefs. It is a yearly historic moment where people in all forms of life gather to celebrate as one. This reflects a peaceful and wholesome Christmas season. Also, if one happens to live in a ready for occupancy condo that is so close to churches, attending the Misa de Gallo will be a perfect way to start a new tradition.

How is it celebrated today?

With the modernization of the Catholic church and the undeniable trends constantly happening, simbang gabi also had changes in order for the tradition to survive.

One salient change is that churches allowed an evening mass. This caters to those who cannot attend the pre-dawn masses like young professionals, students, and the workforce who work up until early in the morning. 

The religious architecture also became more decorated compared to the old days when it is just like a normal mass. Today one can feel the distinction of attending a normal mass and a simbang gabi - thanks to the instagrammable Christmas displays inside and outside the churches.

Manila is a city full of heritage and culture. It can be seen with various Hispanic churches like the Quiapo Church, Sta. Ana Church, Malate Church, San Agustin Church, the Manila Cathedral, and many more. Staying in a condo in Manila will definitely give the best simbang gabi experience and a convenient condo living (it's the capital city after all!).

878 España by Vista Residences, a ready for occupancy condo in Manilla, is the ideal destination for condo living and for those who plan to complete simbang gabi with the presence of nearby churches to choose from. This vertical community is known for its friendly neighborhood that upgrades one’s condo living experience and active lifestyle, making it comfortable and fun.

Tradition beyond the celebration

Aside from the instagrammable displays and fulfillment of wishes, the aroma of smoking delicacies awaits the people once they step out the doorsteps of the church. It is a tradition wherein every simbang gabi there should be treats like bibingka, puto, puto bungbong, suman, and pandesal which definitely excites every church goer. As a matter of fact, even such delicacies already evolved through time like adding toppings, fillings, and various flavors. The warmth of Filipino Christmas, added by these smoking and freshly cooked treats compliments the cold breeze of air during the dawn.

The Christmas spirit is truly alive most especially for the Filipinos with these preserved cultures that deserve to be taken care of for future generations. 

If you are thinking of moving into a new condominium, check out Vista Residences!

Vista Residences is the condominium arm of the country’s largest homebuilder, Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. that offers ready for occupancy and pre-selling condominium projects in Manila, Makati, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Ortigas, Baguio, Cebu, and CDO that are strategically located within major cities, in close proximity to premium universities, transit-oriented locations and developed business districts.   

At Vista Residences, unit owners can take advantage of the property’s centrality. The properties of Vista Residences are strategically located near the country’s premium universities and CBDs, making them an attractive investment for both local and foreign investors.

Living in Vista Residences enables you to enjoy convenience, where everything is pretty much within walking distance or a few minutes away from the property; comfort because the project features and amenities are designed to deliver comfort at all times, which makes condo living a worthy investment; security that is 24/7 and CCTV monitoring, which makes the residents safe and secure within the property.

In line with Vista Residences’ thrust to offer convenience among its residents, it also features an AllDay Convenience Store and Coffee Project in all its projects.

For more information on Vista Residences, email [email protected], follow @VistaResidencesOfficial on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, or call the Marketing Office at 0999 886 4262 / 0917 582 5167.

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