The first day of the nine masses of Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi in the Philippines will officially start at the dawn of December 16. The term “Misa de Gallo” which commonly called as Rooster’s Mass is a Spanish tradition that became very popular in the Philippines as Simbang Gabi, one of the most meaningful Filipino traditions.
In history, Simbang Gabi was started in the 1700s for about 3 centuries have been past. This is when a Spanish friar gathered his flocks during harvest time; a coincidence of Christmas season giving thanks for the bountiful harvest. Group singing was encouraged during the gathering and a simple breakfast was served after. From then on these farmers volitionally determined those early mornings as a time for worship, and it became a practice over time.
Today, the tradition served as a Novena by the Roman Catholic and Aglipayan faithful. It is a traditional practice of completing the nine days mass of private or public devotion to obtain special graces.
One of the Filipino traditions throughout the Simbang Gabi is displaying their colorful Christmas lights and lanterns at the church and then sharing of individual favorite Filipino dishes at end of the Mass. Vendors provide also delicious native delicacies such as bibingka, puto bumbong, and hot sikwate/cocoa.
In most churches, the schedule of their Mesa de Gallo starts at exactly 4 a.m. although some begin at 4:30 in the morning.