Today’s the start of Simbang Gabi. I actually just got home from our chapel (and the lugawan). Since I was younger, I’ve always attended the masses and was part of the choir. But since college, I’ve stopped completing them, I became aloof, and did not bother since I’ve got no one to go with. I attend a few, but wouldn’t be able to complete it. Last year I was too determined to complete it but I still wasn’t able to finish because went to stay with cousins and there isn’t a church near their home.
Anyway, did you actually know how Simbang Gabi started? Father told the story awhile ago. It was also told last year’s first day of Simbang Gabi but this time it’s more detailed. It started during the time when the Philippines isn’t civilized yet. Meaning, no electricity, no technology. In the farmlands, it is harvesting time by mid-November. And they had to plow the fields again by Mid-December in time for planting secondary crops. There was still no technology nor other farm helps but the Carabao. Carabaos love to work when it’s cold, if it’s not, they’d get lazy and won’t work. So, the farmers would wake up really early and work. They had no alarm clocks yet, so they used the rooster or the “gallo” to wake them up. The rooster cocks at the first sight of light. Before the farmers start working they would first go to this area in their town, called ermita – where in all the farmers pray to thank God for their blessings and ask for guidance for the next days – then they go to work. One day, a priest came and encourage them to have a mass instead of just praying their memorized prayers and that’s what they did. Since it Christmas is already near, they thought of making it a “habit”, the 9 days before Christmas in preparation for Christ’s birth, and giving thanks for all the blessings they receive the whole eyar round. So, that’s the story of Simbang Gabi.
They say that if you complete the Simbang Gabi, and you make a wish on the 9th day, your wish will come true. And there’s only one wish for me this year, or rather make it two. Yun lang.. yun lang talaga laman ng puso ko.
Did you also know that it’s only in the Philippines that we have Simbang Gabi? That’s because of the story I just mentioned above. If there are Simbang Gabi’s abroad, more or less, Filipinos started it. And the Philippines celebrates the Christmas season the longest, in other countries, it’s just a day or two. In the Philippines, we have so many Christmas traditions other than Simbang Gabi, like carolings (which used to start early December but because of Ondoy, it started as early as October); Non-stop Christmas parties (invitations here and there); Kris Kringle or Exchange gifts; Bibingka, putobumbong, Hot chocolate; Panunuluyan (reenactment of the Nativity scene); Hamon, Queso de Bola and Noche Buena with the whole family & Aguinaldo. That’s why if you notice it, many many Filipinos abroad comes home every Christmas because they just miss how we celebrate Christmas in our country. There’s nothing like Christmas in the Philippines and with the whole family.
But sometimes, I still wish for a White Christmas, kahit isang beses lang! (: