A church in Speyer.
Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo or the "midnight mass" is a Catholic tradition of celebrating mass during the pre-dawn hours of each of the nine days before Christmas. It is a Christian gathering to get together for the Christmas day countdown.
This always starts at the wee hours of December 15. Although lately, some churches offer a night mass at around 10 pm aside from the midnight mass that usually starts between 4-5 am. What I remember about this midnight mass is the belief that if you have completed the nine day mass without fail, you could get what you have wished for. Now I dont really remember if any of my wishes were granted as I dont really remember if I have completed any of the the nine day novenas, all I remember is that I always look forward to the midnight mass.
This is a chance to meet up with my friends, who simply love waking us up with those loud knocks and shouts knowing nobody would get angry as the purpose is to wake us up for the mass. This despite the fact that in our city, we have the service of the band musicians, who go around creating noises with their instruments with the purpose of waking us all up in time for the mass. And of course, the church bells singing would also be helping our limbs to wake up.
And one of the real attractions would be the feast after the mass. The traditional Philippine rice cakes called puto bumbong and bibingka. I wouldnt miss them. They are our usual breakfast during this novena days. Knowing the small stalls would always be packed after the mass, we even sometimes order before attending the mass.
I miss these midnight masses, but here in Germany, we also have a midnight mass during Christmas Eve. But we have to wait for a few years to attend them because of the kids. Instead, we make sure we attend the mini-kirche or mini mass which is usually held around 10 am during the 24th of December. This mass would include some mini plays about the second coming of Christ participated in by children. And this is usually short and punctuated by story telling and in the end, some cookies and cakes would be prepared for the children.
It is good to show the kids that Christmas is not only about receiving or giving gifts. It is really about the story of Christ's second coming. And this is also one season to share -- to those people who are in need. Such that they have already packed up some of their toys to be given to the less unfortunate kids; those in hospitals, those in care of special houses for kids, those kids in family who we know needed them...
I told them they should be thankful not only for their gifts; but they should be thankful for what they already have.