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LA’s Simbang Gabi novena to go outdoors – and back to its roots

Jordan Mangaliman remembers waking in the middle of a mid-December night to sweet and savory scents as his parents cooked 300 Filipino sausages before a 4 a.m. Simbang Gabi novena Mass. The church would be packed for the procession with “parols,” star-shaped ornamental lanterns. Afterward, everyone feasted on the sausages and other delicacies.

In this year of COVID-19, Simbang Gabi will be ascetic. A curfew prohibits traditional 4 a.m. celebrations. The 10-person limit on indoor gatherings means that Mass will be livestreamed or celebrated outdoors. Singing is out, as is gathering to eat.

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