5 places to experience Simbang Gabi in Melbourne
The most liveable city in the world not only has spectacular landmarks, world class events and, cuisine and coffee second to none, it also has a vibrant mix of the most friendly and welcoming people. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that Melbourne is made up of such a vibrant mix of ethnicities in which a myriad of customs and traditions are celebrated, igniting people’s imaginations, sense of belonging and passion.
It’s that most wonderful time of year again when fresh, soft pandesal and sticky Filipino desserts are enjoyed together after a mass that takes place as the sun rises. Simbang Gabi (dawn mass) is a tradition brought over from the Philippines and celebrated each year during the nine days leading up to Christmas.
Rising with the break of dawn, community members full of faith and joyful spirit attend the novena celebrations with the twinkling hope that upon completion of making it to all of the nine masses, their wishes and petitions will be granted.
Be it the granting of wishes, the tasty Filipino fare, the harmonious guest choirs and priests or the celebration of mass, it has been amazing to see this tradition being embraced by so many people in the community from different backgrounds. I remember when I was a little girl, my parents used to drive to Braybrook’s Christ the King church to attend Simbang Gabi as it was the only parish that celebrated the dawn mass tradition. These days Simbang Gabi masses can be found in various Parish in Melbourne.
Now with two young ones, I find that waking up and rising in the sun, and sitting in silence listening to the stories of guest priests and the sweet melodies of the choirs, is an amazing way to start the day. Quiet moments and reflection with two under 5 is a rarity so these days I cherish this tradition even more. Especially with all the hustling and bustling people around during this time of year, the early morning stillness is priceless.
Today we are blessed to have the spirit of hope and love alive in Melbourne during Christmas that you can find Simbang Gabi being celebrated in numerous parishes.
Resurrection Parish, Kings Park (Congratulations on its 15th year of celebrating Simbang Gabi in Melbourne!)
St Peter Apostle, Werribee
St Peter Chanel, Deer Park
Holy Eucharist, St Albans
St Francis Xavier, Frankston
and now Our Lady’s, Maidstone
Does your parish celebrate this Filipino tradition or do you know of any others in Melbourne that do?
If so leave a comment below and share the spirit and joy of Christmas.