Filipinos celebrate the longest Christmas season in the world.
It starts on September 1, when the months of year begin to end in ‘ber’, as in Decem’ber’, and lasts until the Feast of the Three Kings on January 6 the following year.
(Editor’s note: Since our April 1-15 edition is coming out on Easter Sunday, Canadian Filipino Net wishes to greet our readers A Happy Easter with an article about the observance of Holy Week by one of the most active Catholic parishes in British Columbia with a significant number of Filipino parishioners.)
December 16 is the official start of the religious celebration of Christmas in the Philippines. It begins with a nine-day novena of Masses in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, called Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo in Spanish, meaning Roosters’ Mass. It is so called because church bells start ringing with the crowing of the roosters to awaken parishioners to go to the predawn Masses. It culminates on Christmas eve with the midnight Mass.
“Lord, as years go by, I fear the yoke of sickness and pain and I worry how my life will end. And so I humbly ask you, Lord, that when my time comes to leave this life, do not call me by sudden death, Not by accident that tears the body apart, Not by illness that leaves the mind confused, Or the senses impaired; Not at the mercy of evil forces; Not with a heart full of hate or a body racked with pain; Not abandoned, lonely, without love or care; Not by my own hand in a moment of despair. My dear Lord Jesus, let death come as a gentle friend to sit and linger with me until you call my name.”