A Good Night for Noche Buena Posted by Carrie B. Yan on 12/05/2013 07:07 PM
Christmastime in the Philippines has been noticeably westernized the past few generations. From Santa Claus to the food and even the carols, evidence of the influence of the west, especially the American version of celebrating the holidays, has abounded. But there are still traditional Filipino activities and representations that continue to remain dear to our hearts. Among them is the parol, the traditional bamboo and paper ornament that has symbolized the fervent hope and goodwill of Filipinos especially during the holiday season. And another is the Noche Buena.
Noche Buena is regarded by most Filipinos as one of the most revered traditions in our culture. It is a time for family, friends and loved ones to come together and celebrate life and the intimacy that binds us all. Relatives from near and far usually gather in their ancestral homes and take part in a feast that occasion joyous reverie for all the blessings that they have come upon the past year and to look forward to the things that will come in the future.
The traditional Noche Buena feast is celebrated after the Misa de Gallo, literally, “Rooster’s Mass.” This coincides on the eve of Christmas, and is the last mass heard of the nine traditional evening masses or “Simbang Gabi.”. The previous eight masses are called the Misa de Aguinaldo, or Mass of Blessings. At midnight, the streets are still alive with activities. People are on their way to their respective homes ready for the traditional feast. Young children can be seen playing in the neighborhoods across the country; thankful for the opportunity of staying up late into the night and trifling with their siblings and distant cousins.
After the Misa de Gallo, Noche Buena is marked by a feast that usually includes fares such as lechon, adobo, pancit, lumpia, and a variety of desserts such as ice cream and cakes. And for the more mature of us, the ever present cervezas are served and toasts will be raised to the health of each other’s company and lift a glass for the joyous occasion that has brought them all together.
The merrymaking will continue well into wee hours of the next morning and depending on their family’s practice, gifts will be exchanged and memories will be made. After which, some would go to mass after dawn or some will go to their own homes, but everyone would feel a special glow, having shared the night with the people they love and have lost touch with and will look forward to the next time they can share another moment such as they have during Noche Buena.