tradition

Simbang Gabi is Filipino Advent tradition honoring the Blessed Mother

Parishioners Kevin Eulalia, left, Fely Eulalia and Merlinda Eulalia served Filipino delicacies after a Simbang Gabi Mass Dec. 18. Simbang Gabi is a novena of Masses honoring Mary. The tradition of Simbang Gabi traces back to the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the Philippines about 500 years ago. At the time, they had a tradition of celebrating pre-Christmas novena Masses in honor of the Annunciation.

Lily Elznic has fond childhood memories of celebrating Simbang Gabi growing up in the Philippines.

She and her family, who lived about an hour outside of Manila, would head to church for Mass in the early hours of the morning — for nine days straight.

"With all our friends in the neighborhood, we'd all go to the church," she said. "Along the way we'd watch the (Christmas) lights on the houses. After Mass, there would be a line on the street with food vendors — all of our favorite foods. Every morning it was a celebration."

DEAR FATHER | Station churches are part of ancient Lenten tradition

The station (or stational) churches are specific churches in the city of Rome that are designated to be visited by the pope or his delegate on a particular day of the Lenten season.

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