The smell of freshly cooked bibingka wafting in the air, the cool December breeze billowing in your face, people–wrapped in sweaters and still half asleep–making their way towards the church, and the church bell ringing signaling the start of simbang gabi. Ah, nothing says Christmas in the Philippines better than this.
Simbang gabi is a nine-day series of devotional masses leading up to Christmas Eve in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is usually held as early 3:00am and devotees believe that if one completes all the nine masses, he or she gets to make a wish.
And as the simbang gabi begins today, World Urbanista shall take you on this nine-day tradition with images that will make you feel like you’re in Manila enjoying our classic Filipino customs.