Very few understand that Misa de Gallo is a fairly recent tradition celebrated by Filipino Catholics during Christmas Advent Season. Literally translated into Rooster's Mass, it is also used interchangeably with "misa de aguinaldo" and the local term "simbang gabi".
Added to this, there is confusion in terms of the actual time it is celebrated as simbang gabi is often referred to as the vigil mass done a few hours before the eve of Christmas. On the other hand, other people refer to simbang gabi as the masses held at dawn, nine days before Christmas day and starts from December 16 to 24.
So which is which?
A little web sleuthing revealed that Misa de Gallo started its roots when the Philippine Catholic Church applied for a special indult from Rome to hold novena masses during the season of Advent in 1953. A novena is a Roman Catholic devotion of prayers done for nine consecutive days which explains why Misa de Gallo starts on December 16. Special permission was granted by Rome in 1961 for Misa de Gallo to be officially recognized as part of the Philippine Roman Catholic practice.
Technically, the vigil mass is not part of the novena mass as Misa de Gallo is often celebrated just before the break of dawn, in which case, it is more appropriate to refer to it as Misa de Gallo instead of Simbang Gabi.
This tradition is uniquely Filipino and is celebrated in the Philippines and locations where there is a sizable Filipino community. Other countries with Roman Catholic citizens celebrate similar practices of evening masses but is often limited to the vigil mass on the eve of Christmas.
That aside, there is more to the technical definition of misa de gallo. puto bumbong, sapin sapin, kakanin, sikwate, arroz caldo, the early morning commune with friends, the general feeling of hope and the promise of Divine indulgence for completing the novena mass.
On a personal level, i have been doing this consistently for the past three years with the primary intent to give thanks for the year-that-was and a fervent prayer for the year-to-come for myself, my soul, my family, loved ones, those that are sick, friends, colleagues and those that i have wronged or have wronged me.
Too often we ask for more and we forget that we have to give thanks for what we already have.
Thank you for being born Baby Jesus for that paved the way for my Salvation at the time of Your death.
visit my blog for more incessant rambling