Today's the 6th day of the Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi as Filipinos call it locally. We were able to attend the 5:30am morning mass instead of the 4am because all the kids are now on Christmas break.
I have to say that there were more people attending the 4am mass rather than the 5:30am one. This is to the point that the church had to devise some new guidelines to make the Holy Communion part more orderly.
Shown below is a photo of the Christmas tableau behind the altar at the St. Peregrine Laziosi Shrine. This is the church where we hear mass regularly. Notice the presence of usherettes (in blue shirts) manning the communion stations.
Simbang Gabi of Previous Years
Honestly, I don't ever recall going to any of the Simbang Gabi morning masses prior to this year's. The ones we attended were the evening masses. When I was working, I simply couldn't wake up early for the morning mass.
Besides, even if DH wanted to attend the Simbang Gabi morning mass, she'd have to attend the 4am mass instead of the 5:30am one. That's because she'd still need to prepare the pack lunches of the kids for school.
The only masses that I recall attending were the ones in the evening. And I wasn't even consistent with the entire 9 mass tradition.
Simbang Gabi, Misa de Gallo, Misa de Aguinaldo
The Misa del Gallo (Spanish for "Mass of the Rooster") practice started centuries ago during the Spanish colonial period. Priests held early dawn masses for the farmers who wanted to attend Christmas mass but could not leave their fields.
Simbang Gabi, its the local term, lasts for nine consecutive days beginning December 16.
Simbang Gabi traces its roots in Mexico when, in 1587, Fray Diego de Soria, prior of the convent of San Agustin Acolman, petitioned the Pope for permission to hold Christmas masses outside the church because of the big crowd that attended the early morning masses.
It was in the 16th century when Pope Sixtus V decreed that these pre-dawn masses be also held in the Philippines starting every December 16. The decree was in keeping with the nine-day traditional festivals of Filipinos in celebrating auspicious occasions like harvestime.
It was also meant to give farmers a chance to hear mass before setting out for the fields. Rural Filipinos were used to starting the day two hours before sunrise.
Simbang gabi is said to have been intended as a novena for a bountiful harvest the following year. The Misa de Gallo was timed to culminate with the Misa de Aguinaldo on Christmas Day.