The Filipino tradition of "Simbang Gabi" (mass at dawn or novena mass) is a nine-day novena in preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. It starts on the 16th of December as early as 4 or 5 in the morning...while the anticipated simbang gabi starts on the night of December 15.
Here in Los Angeles, the first day of simbang gabi was held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. I was overwhelmed with the number of Filipinos who attended the mass and was overjoyed to see a lot of "parol" or Filipino christmas lanterns representing different parishes. The First Reading was in Filipino and about half of the hymns too! During the offertory, my eyes were brimming with tears...I felt the pangs of homesickness...
Filipinos have the best Christmas in the world because for us, it's not all about the presents...it's not really about Santa, the snow, nor the shopping the day after...For us, it's about Jesus and it's about family...everything is centered on the love and togetherness...it's the reason why we feel warm and fuzzy inside...not the hot chocolate we just gulped down (okay...maybe, that's a teeny part of it...)
After the mass, I was glowing with Pinoy Pride...We have shared our Simbang Gabi tradition with the world...
Now, if only I can find a store selling bibingka and puto bumbong...
By the way, just in case you're from Los Angeles and need the schedule of simbang gabi masses, here it is:
Dec. 15 (6:30pm) - Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles
Dec. 16 & 17 (5:00pm) - St. Basil's Church
637 S. Kingsley Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90005
Dec. 18 (7:00pm) & Dec. 19 (6:30pm) - Christ the King Roman Catholic Church
624 N. Rossmore Ave, LA, CA 90004
Dec. 20 & 21 (7:00pm) - Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana Parish
923 S. La Brea Ave., LA, CA 90036
Dec. 22 & 23 (7:00pm) - St. Brendan Church
310 S. Van Ness Ave., LA, CA 90020