Filipino Christmas Tradition - Simbang Gabi

"Simbang Gabi" is a Filipino Christmas tradition, it is a series of nine (9) dawn masses, the mass starts as early as 4:00 a.m. It begins on December 16 and ends on the midnight of the 24th of December, which is the midnight mass.

This tradition was introduced by the Spanish friars to allow the farmers to hear mass before going to the fields early in the morning. Simbang Gabi is also known by its popular Spanish name as the Misa de Gallo, or ``mass of the rooster.''

In the olden days, the church bells start ringing as early as three o' clock waking people up so they can get ready for the four o'clock dawn mass.

The Roman Catholic churches across the nation start to open their doors shortly before the break of dawn to welcome the faithfuls to the Simbang Gabi mass.

Today, the tradition of Simbang Gabi continues whether you live in the city or in the province, although it is celebrated in new ways. Most churches are decorated with colourful lights and beautiful parol lanterns to welcome the church goers.

The Nativity Scene or "Belen" is displayed in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It shows Baby Jesus in a manger with Mother Mary and Saint Joseph. There are shepherds and farm animals. A complete scenario of the Belen includes the three wise men carrying their gifts to Infant Jesus and the star of Bethlehem that guided them in their journey.

Shortly after the mass, traditional delicacies awaits the church goers, there are food stalls right outside the church, popular favourites are bibingka, puto (rice cakes), puto bungbong, suman sa pasko, suman sa ibos and usually served with tea or coffee. Hot pandesal (breakfast roll ) are also very popular.

Simbang Gabi is not just a tradition that is celebrated because we need to do so. but it is the spiritual preparation for Christmas, in commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. The Simbang Gabi is also seen as a way of requesting blessings from the Lord,as most people believe that if one completes the whole series of nine dawn masses, wishes will be granted.

Over the years, Filipinos communities have made some changes in the celebration of Simbang Gabi, some urban parishes now celebrates Misa de Gallo around 8- 9 in the evening in order to accommodate the needs of the members of the community who have different work schedules.

The Simbang Gabi tradition is also practised by Catholic Filipinos communities who are living elsewhere in the world. No matter how or when this celebration takes place, the Simbang Gabi provides a strong indication of the depth of Catholicism among the Filipino people.

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Comments 19 comments

Venice Tabas 11 months ago

nice thanks

jianclyde 2 years ago

aside from simbang gabi, filipinos are also known spent Christmas the longest starting Sept. until the end of three kings sometime in January.

as soon as the ber months start Filipinos will immediately put up decorations unlike in western customs they put up there Christmas tree days before christmas.

Justin Beiber 4 years ago

So cool. I want to go to the Philippines

jariz 5 years ago

thanks!!! its really's a big help in me. now i know why we always do that.

may 5 years ago


Roman Numeral Conversion Worksheets 5 years ago

thanx.. sa gumwa nto...:)

princess 5 years ago

why is it called "simbang gabi" e madaling araw naman talaga siya ginaganap dati? thank you! =)

slp 6 years ago

In the Phils. the novena of masses in preparation for Chhristmas is called "Misa de Gallo" because the masses are at 4:00 o'clock in the early dawn at the crowing of the cock (gallo). In the States it has come to be known as Simbang Gabi and they have it at 7:00 PM. Hope you see the distinction!

andre 6 years ago

haha rooster :) can't wait to get back to the Philippines :) i like to recommend using when you want to send something to the Philippines

jenny arancon 6 years ago

correction lang misa de gallo means dawn mass not mass

of the rooster

sillywalk profile image

sillywalk 7 years ago

Great hub. Nobody does Christmas like the Filipinos.

may 7 years ago

hello miss mm, i wanna know how come they called it simbang gabi if they are doing it early in the morning?

cj 7 years ago

ei.. tnx.. laking help nito s paper work q..

ck_torqx01 8 years ago

.,..mga guyzzz,thankz sa info dito!!!!sana marami pa kayong matulungang mga mag-aaral na tulad ko!!!!!

chuch_lord 8 years ago

sAlAmAt Po Sa PaNiNiWaLa Sa SiMbAnG gAbI:3

MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 9 years ago from NSW, Australia Author

Hi Rowena,

glad to be of help. thanks for dropping by.


Rowena 9 years ago

Thanks for the info. i've found it very useful wd my presentation.

MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 9 years ago from NSW, Australia Author

Hi Rmnathan,

thanks for dropping by and do come back.

Rmnathan profile image

Rmnathan 9 years ago from Sharjah

Good information. Thanks.

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