By: Carissa “Cari” Nanagas Encarnacion


For many, “Simbang Gabi” or “Dawn Masses” is a favorite Advent custom to prepare for Christmas. Also known as “Misa de Gallo” this practice was one way for the Spanish missionaries to spread Catholicism. The word “gallo” in Spanish means “rooster,” thus the Mass is held before sunrise or before the cock crows, as we must put God before everything.


This well-loved Philippine lore is very meaningful. First it is our thanksgiving for the greatest gift of all, Jesus who became man after His love for us. It also means for us to give tribute to our beloved Mother Mary for the 9 months she carried the Baby Jesus in her womb, thus the 9 days of the novena from December 16 to 24. In doing so, many aim to receive a special favor or wish from Jesus and Mama Mary which we must all await with full faith that it will be given, not necessarily in our way but His way. Furthermore, this observance of daybreak masses is a great time of togetherness among family members, friends, parishioners, etc. Thus, Simbang Gabi or Dawn Masses is a truly wonderful gesture of giving appreciation to Jesus and Mother Mary, receiving their blessings, being with loved ones, and hopefully will always remain as a cherished tradition.


Unfortunately, the significance of this treasured tradition has seemed to have changed throughout time, as observed in the recent years. Often, “Simbang Gabi” has become a time for partners to have a rendezvous – a date if you must call it. And for single people, this may be an opportunity for chance encounters with new acquaintances. For those who wish to remain unattached, this has become an opportunity to see or show the latest trends in fashion, hair, accessories or whatever else. In addition, many use this moment to tune-in with others about the latest gossip in town; and of course, what is chitter chatter without the taste of bibingka and puto bumbong?

“Simbang Gabi” is a truly wonderful way to adore the Baby Jesus and venerate the Blessed Mother Mary, as well as receive their blessings and graces, while enjoying the presence of loved ones, as well as savoring the fancy sites, festive sounds and flavorful snacks.

Join the Dawn Masses and Simbang Gabi Masses and other events leading to Christmas at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes:

Dec 15 – 23, 2021.  4:30 pm Rosary. 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm Simbang Gabi Masses

Dec 16 – 24, 2021.  4:00 am Rosary. 4:30 am Misa de Aguinaldo

Dec 24, 2021. 6:00 pm Christmas Serenade. 7:00 pm Vigil Mass. 8:00 pm Panunuluyan. 9:00 pm Midnight Mass.

See you at the NSOLL!



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