A Catholic Tradition of The Misa de Gallo
I have fond memories of Misa de Gallo, or "Rooster's Mass" in Spanish, which is a Christmas Eve mass celebrated in the Philippines. It's also celebrated in other countries, including: Spain, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico. Some churches even reenact the Nativity scene which brings the children, parents and the community together. It is fun to be part of it.
In the Philippines, Misa de Gallo is part of a series of Catholic Masses called Simbang Gabi, which takes place from December 16–24. The masses are held as early as 3 AM to 5 AM and are a tradition passed down from Spain. Even though the Philippines is a tropical country, it sure feels good to enjoy the cool air at dawn as it can be warm during the day.
Misa de Gallo, also known as Simbang Gabi (translated as Night Mass) is a Catholic tradition in the Philippines. It is a series of nine dawn masses that begins at 4:00 am, hence dawn, or 5:00 a.m., celebrated in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. The masses begin on December 16th and culminate with the last mass on December 24th, which is known as "Misa de Aguinaldo" (aguinaldo means gift, thus translated as Gift Mass). Spanish friars introduced the tradition in the 17th century to allow farmers to attend Mass before starting work in the fields. The tradition is believed to have originated during Spanish colonial times when farmers had to start their day early to work in the fields, and the rooster's crow would wake them up to attend mass. Misa de Gallo is a significant part of Roman Catholic Christmas traditions and is often followed by a festive breakfast or traditional delicacies sold outside the church in the Philippines. But here in our local community in California, we celebrate Misa de Gallo with a sense of community after mass by bringing snacks, having a meal together or creating some memories to remember home away from home.
Why celebrate Misa de Gallo?
Misa de Gallo is a widely observed tradition, particularly during the Christmas season. There are several reasons why Misa de Gallo is celebrated:
1. Preparation for Christmas: Misa de Gallo serves as a form of spiritual preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. It is considered a way to prepare one's heart and mind for the true meaning of Christmas.
2. Honor to the Virgin Mary: The nine-day novena also pays homage to the Virgin Mary. The early morning masses are seen as a way to honor her fiat, or her acceptance of God's will to become the mother of Jesus.
3. Community and Fellowship: Misa de Gallo is not just a religious practice; it is also a social and cultural event. Many families and communities come together to attend the dawn masses, strengthening bonds and fostering a sense of belonging all over the world.
4. Catholic Tradition: Filipinos all over the world anticipate Misa de Gallo every year as it is deeply ingrained in Philippine culture and tradition as a Catholic. It is a unique expression of faith and a distinct part of the Christmas season for Filipinos.
5. Blessings and Supplications: Many Filipinos believe that attending Misa de Gallo is an opportunity to ask for blessings and present personal intentions to God. It is believed that these early morning prayers hold special significance and have a higher chance of being granted.
Overall, Misa de Gallo is celebrated to deepen one's spirituality, honor the Virgin Mary, strengthen community ties, uphold faith traditions, and seek blessings and supplications from God. There’s always something to learn everyday and this 9-Day Journey of Misa de Gallo is no exception. A teaching moment from the Holy Family’s life that we can learn from and apply to our own family journey everyday. It's a spiritual cornerstone of Christmas and a time for families to come together in faith and tradition.