Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Wow! I woke up this morning from the gushing of the wind as the trees slapped the windows near our bedroom. It was raining so hard and it’s really chilly. I was all so warm with our electric blanket and I have yet to take a shower for work.

I had never driven such a weather condition before. It seemed so rare here in California to see some flooded areas. I can’t even see 3 cars ahead of me. I stopped at the bank and Post Office and my jacket was all so wet when I arrived at the office.

Well, it’s 16th in the Philippines already and the custom “Misa de Gallo” had just started. Traditionally, Christmas Day in the Philippines is ushered in by the nine-day dawn masses that start on December 16. Known as the Misa de Gallo (Rooster's Mass) in the traditional Spanish and in Filipino as Simbang Gabi, or "Night Mass", this novena of Masses is the most important Filipino Christmas tradition.
These nine dawn Masses are also considered as a Novena by the Catholic faithful. This refers to the Roman Catholic and Aglipayan practice of performing nine days of private or public devotion to obtain special graces.

In some parishes, the Simbang Gabi begins as early as four o'clock in the morning. Going to mass this early for nine consecutive days is meant to show the churchgoer's devotion and faith as well as to heighten anticipation for the Nativity of Jesus. In traditional Filipino belief, however, completing the novena is also supposed to mean that God would grant the devotee's special wish or favour.

After hearing Mass, Filipino families partake of traditional Philippine Christmastime delicacies, either during breakfast at home or immediately outside the church, where they are sold. Vendors offer a wealth of native delicacies, including bibingka (rice flour and egg based cake, cooked using coals on top of and under the pastry), puto bumbong (a purple sticky rice delicacy which is steamed in bamboo tubes, with brown sugar and shredded dried coconut meat served as condiments), salabat (hot ginger tea) and tsokolate (thick Spanish cocoa). In some Aglipayan churches, after the mass everybody is invited to partake the "painit" (after mass snacks of delicacies with hot coffee or tsokolate) at the house of the sponsor of the mass.

For Filipinos, Christmas Eve ("Bisperas ng Pasko") on December 24th has the much-anticipated Noche Buena – the traditional Christmas Eve feast after the midnight mass. Family members dine together around 12 midnight on traditional Noche Buena fare, which includes: queso de bola (Spanish: "ball of cheese"; this is actually edam cheese), "Tsokolate" (a hot chocolate drink) and jamon (Christmas ham), and some would open presents at this time. – Information from Wikipedia

By the way, I have been busy buying and putting some decorations at home last weekend. I finally finished the table with my centerpiece art, hahaha! We both loved it. The party will be this weekend and another one for the New Year’s Eve. Hopefully, the fresh Christmas tree will up by Friday just so Rosa can clean the mess. Oh, I’m just glad I’m done with my holiday shopping:) There's just a lot of sale everywhere, very nice!

5 Grateful Heart's Words:

Debbie said...

I find it interesting to learn about different traditions of celebrating Christmas. You open up a different world by sharing about the Filipino Christmas. I plan to write a post on Heart Choices on Norwegian American Christmas traditions. BTW, your centerpiece is very pretty.

Shawie said...

thanks, Debbie:)

Nortehanon said...

Nowadays, there is already such a thing as anticipated Misa de Gallo in Pinas. Many parishes already hold a Misa de Gallo at night for those who cannot attend the 3 or 4 o'clock early morning Mass. Just sharing lang po :)

Mel Alarilla said...

Yes, Christmas celebration in the Philippines is more solemn and spiritual, although in the urban areas it is also very commercial already. The Christmas spirit is more felt in the provinces where the traditional customs are still being followed. Thanks for the nostalgic post. Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to you all. God bless you always.

Madz said...

Hi sis, got a tag for u (this is cool)... excited to read your story too...HAVE FUN!!