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Sun Dec 23, 2012, 03:09 PM


Christmas traditions reflect Catholic diversity

By Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel
10:24 a.m. EST, December 23, 2012

In the predominately Catholic Philippines, the Christmas tradition of Simbang Gabi entails nine pre-dawn masses culminating on Dec. 23. Families gather in parish churches between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. to worship and sing traditional Christmas songs.

But in Central Florida, Filipino Catholics observe Simbang Gabi at 5:30 p.m. masses that rotate among nine parishes. The third night of Simbang Gabi was held at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Kissimmee.

The Filipino clergy wore white vestments unlike the traditional purple worn during Advent. Worshippers came dressed from work, women in skirts and jackets, men in slacks and short-sleeve dress shirts. Or in the casual attire of the casually retired.

"In the Philippines, the mass is in the early morning, but people here work, so we do it at night," said Lily Yap, 72, of Orlando.


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