Midnight mass has been a significant tradition in Christmas celebrations. Celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus, Christmas isn't complete without the Midnight Mass. Know how it is organized all around the world.
Christmas Eve Midnight Mass
Christmas is celebrated with much fervor and enthusiasm around the world and follows many ancient traditions and rituals. One such important tradition of Christmas celebration, which bears special significance for the Christian devotees, is the Midnight Mass. Since it has been a traditional Christian belief that Jesus was born at night - according to Luke 2:6-8 - the Midnight Mass is conducted on the Christmas Eve to commemorate the birth of the great Savior. Though the merrier celebrations of the Christmas Eve revolve around the arrival of Santa Claus at midnight, the more religious versions of celebration feature Midnight Mass to spread the word of Christ's arrival. However, from time to time, there have been modifications in the time of the celebration of the midnight mass. For instance in 2009, Vatican officials declared that the Midnight Mass would commence at 10 PM so that the 82-year-old Pope Benedict XVI wouldn't have to stay awake late into the night. To learn more about the Midnight Mass, keep reading.
- According to theologians, the Midnight Mass evolved from individuals who made pilgrimages to Israel and the birthplace of Christ. According to Bible, Jesus was born at night and thus, a midnight mass is celebrated at midnight to commemorate Jesus's birth.
- A Christian liturgical rite, involving the sacrament of Eucharist, commences just before midnight and includes Biblical readings focusing primarily on the story of Christ's birth. The Midnight Mass is traditionally celebrated through Holy Communion with family and comprises of candle-lit carol services, dramatizations of Christ's life story and ringing of the bells at midnight. In Israel, a procession is held from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on the Christmas Eve.
- However, in recent past, "Midnight Mass" has been held at 7 PM, under the instruction of the churches in the Spanish-speaking regions. The Midnight Mass is also known as Misa del Gallo, or "Missa do Galo", in Portuguese which means the "Rooster's Mass".
- In the Philippines, people conduct the Midnight mass for nine days starting December 16 and continue up to December 24. During these nine days, the Filipinos organize dawn Masses that generally start around 4:00-5:00 AM.
- Traditionally, Christian families celebrate the Christmas Eve meal with various meats, all around the world. But, the Italians and Sicilians celebrate the traditional Catholic "Feast of the Seven Fishes" which is served after a fasting period of 24 hours. Though pre-Christmas fasting has never been one of the common traditions, the Italian-Americans still follow this tradition and attend the Midnight Mass.
Midnight Mass has been an orthodox Catholic tradition and has been celebrated with great devotion and ardor. The traditions may seem to differ in different regions but the essence remains the same, all across the world.