Delicious Foods During Simbang Gabi

Delicious Foods During Simbang Gabi

The Philippines is the country that celebrates the longest Christmas season, starting from September and ends in the Three Kings’ Day in January. When the “BER” months come, expect people hinting at the most awaited event of the year. Christmas songs will start to play on the radio, sparkling decors will be displayed in malls, and artificial Christmas trees will be brought out from storage and will be decorated with an array of holiday-themed ornaments. You’ll know that Christmas is nearing when TV news programs start their countdown by September 15, or 100 days before Christmas. Everyday, you’ll know how many days are left until the much-awaited holiday.

 

About 80% of Filipinos are Catholic and celebrating Christmas is definitely tied with religious activities. Nine days before Christmas, a series of daily Mass is celebrated either early in the morning (called Misa de Gallo) or at night (Simbang Gabi). It’s a commitment to attend all the nine masses since you have to wake up before dawn or stay late in the evening, depending on the mass you wish to attend. You also have to battle the sleep-inducing cold air, and stay awake for an hour-long mass. One enticement Catholics use for going to church is a common belief that if you complete the nine Masses, your petition or wish will be granted.

 

2 http://tropicalvacationspotsblog.comAnother attraction to attending Simbang Gabi is the mouth-watering array of snacks sold just outside the church. On the way going to church, small stalls are set up where vendors sell various hot snacks to warm the hands and stomachs of churchgoers. The most popular foods during Simbang Gabi are puto bumbong and bibingka. These two Filipino rice cakes are always available during Christmas season. You can get bibingka which is freshly cooked between hot coals. Each bibingka may include a tiny slice of cheese and salted egg. Yum! Puto bumbong is another snack associated with Christmas. It is made of glutinous rice and is steamed in a small bamboo tube. It is purple in color so you won’t have any trouble distinguishing it from other rice cakes. When serving, melted butter is spread on the puto bumbong with freshly grated coconut and brown sugar.

 

 

http://tastebuds.blog126.fc2.comThere are other rice cakes or kanin available during Simbang Gabi like suman (steamed glutinous rice wrapped in coconut leaves), nilupak (cooked mashed cassava wrapped in banana leaves), and kutsinta (sticky brown rice cake). In some churches, people serve hot lugaw (rice porridge) for free after Mass. These rice-based snacks are affordable, filling, and come in small, easy to take home sizes. Whether you’re going home after Simbang Gabi or heading straight for work after Misa de Gallo, these snacks are sure to make your stomach happy.

 

Simbang Gabi is a very old tradition being passed on to generations for more than four centuries. It brings out the strong faith of Filipinos, the importance of spending quality time with the family, and remembering that Christmas is less about one’s self but more for Christ and others. And what better way to end a spiritual fellowship than with a freshly cooked rice cake and hot coffee.

 

 

Photo credits:

Figure 1 http://lifestyle.inquirer.net

Figure 2 http://tropicalvacationspotsblog.com

Figure 3 http://tastebuds.blog126.fc2.com

 

 

About the Author

 Joyce Dimaculangan is a freelance writer who has written articles on a wide range of topics from information technology to lifestyle and wellness. She enjoys eating local foods, trying new dishes, and buying organic produce as much as possible. You can follow her on Twitter @joysi_writer.