DUBAI — True to the spirit of celebrating Christmas the Filipino way, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dubai organised its “Simbang Gabi” (Dawn Mass) yesterday.
Bro. Nen Bunag, a parish leader at the St. Mary’s Church, said that around 4,000 Filipino parishioners are expected to attend the special Christmas Mass every night for nine consecutive nights.
A tradition that has been observed in the Philippines, the novena (from the Spanish word “nueve”, which means nine), is originally held before the break of dawn from December 16 to 24 in anticipation of Christmas.
In the UAE, however, said Bunag, the schedule had to be slightly revised. “Because of some concerns that we have to take into account, we have set the Tagalog Christmas Masses at 8pm from December 15 to 23. The church is often busy preparing for the celebrations on December 24 and 25 so we had to move the event a day earlier. Besides, based on a survey we have conducted, most Filipinos prefer to attend the mass in the evenings, perhaps due to their work schedule,” he disclosed.