I'm so sleepy! I only had five hours of sleep last night because I attended the Anticipated Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo of our parish, the St. Joseph's Shrine. My former choirmates (I've filed an indefinitely leave from the group) invited me to join them for their service so I had the chance to sing with them during the 9:00 pm mass which ended at around 10:30 pm.
I know a lot of Filipinos practice this well loved tradition of Simbang Gabi which literally means "Mass in the Night," because the mass takes place while it's still dark; and is also known as Misa de Gallo because the liturgy is held at dawn before the "gallo" or the cock crows.
When my lola (grandmother) was still alive, we never fail to practice this very Filipino Christmas Tradition every year. We would walk to church at 2:30 am because Lola don't want to be late for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. After the mass, we will bring home puto bumbong and bibingka. (I miss my Lola!)
Now that I don't have anyone to accompany me to church and the fact that I get really irritable when I lack sleep, I observed hearing mass for nine days either at the 6:15 am mass or the 6:00 pm mass. In this way even if these masses were not at the traditional time of the Simbang Gabi, I can still reflect on the gospel reading, be grateful for the many blessings poured upon me and my loved ones, to pray for our needs for the coming year and to spiritual prepare myself for Christmas.