Christmas in the Philippines: Rooster Masses
In the Philippines the Christmas season begins on December 16 with the first of nine early morning church services called the Misa de Gallo, or “rooster’s mass”. Known as Simbang Gabi in the Tagalog language spoken by many Filipinos, these services take place every day between December 16 and December 24. A festive rather than solemn mood pervades these observances in spite of the fact that the masses begin at four in the morning. At that early hour church bells ring, marching bands play, and fireworks explode, rousing anyone who is still in bed and reminding everyone to attend mass. In small towns the priest himself may knock on doors, calling parishioners for this early morning service. These services are well attended, since many Filipinos see them as an essential element of their Christmas celebrations. To many who attend, the socializing that takes place after the service is as important as the mass itself. Vendors sell breakfast foods outside, and people stop to chat with friends and neighbors in the fresh, early morning air.