SIMBANG GABI is one of the longest and most popular among the Filipino traditions in the Philippines. It is when Catholic churches across the nation start to open their doors shortly before the break of dawn or in the eavening to welcome the faithful to the Simbang Gabi Mass.
Simbang Gabi or Mass at Dawn is a nine-day novena to the Blessed Mother. The novena begins December 16 as early as 4 in the morning and culminates with the “Misa de Gallo” on Christmas Eve to welcome the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Simbang Gabi traces its roots in Mexico when, in 1587, the Pope granted the petition of Fray Diego de Soria, prior of the convent of San Agustin Acolman, to hold Christmas Mass outdoors because the Church could not accommodate the huge number of people attending the evening Mass.
During the old times, the pre-dawn Mass is announced by the ringing of the church bells. In some rural areas, an hour before the start of Simbang Gabi, a brass band plays Christmas music all over the town. It is also believed that parish priests would go far knocking on doors to wake and gather the faithful to attend the misa de gallo. Farmers as well as fishermen wake up early to hear the Gospel before going to their work and ask for the grace of good harvest.
Simbang Gabi was started at Jesus Our Savior Parish in Christmas of 2010 to this day. It begins in the evening of December 15 with Holy Hour at 6pm and confession followed by the Novena Mass at 7pm.