Thousands of Filipino Catholics from throughout Southern California will celebrate the beginning of the 16th Simbang Gabi, one of the oldest Filipino Christmas traditions, with a special Mass on Saturday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of theAngels, 555 W. Temple St., in downtown Los Angeles.
Archbishop José H. Gomez will preside at the liturgy, presented by the Filipino Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Mass kicks off nine days of prayer for peace, unity, and family, leading up to Christmas.
The Mass will be preceded by the traditional music band that leads the “Parade of Parols,” or lanterns, of more than 130 parishes from the five pastoral regions in the tri-county Archdiocese (LA, Santa Barbara and Ventura).
The parols, a Philippine Christmas symbol, will be blessed at the end of the Mass. In the Philippines, the parol is used to light up people’s homes and is carried by parishioners attending Simbang Gabi Mass, or “Mass before dawn.” The procession will also include parols of religious Filipino-American organizations, civic and professional organizations, and government offices, usually led by the Philippine Consulate General.
The Filipino tradition of Simbang Gabi dates back nearly 500 years. It begins nine nightsbefore Christmas Eve. An Advent Mass is celebrated before dawn each night in preparation for Christmas.
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