The coronavirus pandemic has significantly altered the way Filipinos celebrate traditions during special occasions like the Holiday Season.
Many, who cannot be reunited with their families this Christmas, for instance, will be “connecting” with their loved ones online via zoom, particularly those with elderly relatives like parents and grandparents who are more vulnerable to the viral infection.
For some who may be fortunate to be reunited with their families Thursday tonight for the Christmas Eve dinner (Noche Buena), physical distancing is advised along with skipping the usual “beso-beso” and the renting of a videoke machine.
While Holy Masses will be celebrated in churches that may accommodate 30 percent of their capacity, seniors are advised to join the Eucharistic celebration online.
The Misa de Gallo (Christmas Eve Mass), the culmination of the nine-day ‘Simbang Gabi’ novena masses in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary that began last Dec. 16, will be celebrated in all Catholic churches earlier in some parishes this year.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said, the Christmas Eve mass, the Vigil Mass of Christmas, may be celebrated from 6 p.m. onwards and the last mass of December 24 taking the liturgy of the Midnight Mass of Christmas.
The dawn mass of Christmas, the CBCP said, may also be celebrated early morning on Christmas Day.
Since the touching and the kissing of the image of the Child Jesus is prohibited, families are advised to bring their own image of the Baby Jesus during the masses.
Manila Archdiocese Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo has ordered all the parishes under his jurisdiction to hold more masses so more churchgoers can attend.
Church rites will include the lighting of the white center candle – the Christ candle -in the Advent wreath to herald the Birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. The Belen will also finally be complete with the addition of the Baby Jesus, which has been conspicuously missing in some mangers since it was set up.
Traditionally, the Christmas Eve Mass is held at midnight following the belief that Jesus was born at night (Luke 2:6-8). This is also reflected in reference to Christmas Eve as the Holy Night, or “Heilige Nacht” in German, and Good Night, which is Noche Buena in Spanish, and in widely popular Christmas songs like Silent Night and Oh, Holy Night.
With the Filipinos’ penchant for celebrations, families will, somehow, manage to observe Christmas Eve albeit a little differently and simply.