Misa del Gallo: Roosters and Christmas

Now that our chickens are ranging free in the afternoon, I thought I should check in with my neighbor who also owns a small flock of chickens.  She commented that she often hears our rooster (who doesn’t?) and asked about his size and behaviors.  As I was thinking about Christmas tonight, I was delighted to find that Latinos and other Spanish speaking countries refer to Midnight Mass as “Misa del Gallo” or “Mass of the Rooster.”  This is because the rooster crows the beginning of day, and according to tradition, midnight begins the Christmas day, celebrating the victory of light over darkness. (This is clarified on many websites as 3:00 a.m., but I, for one, am glad that Christmas Mass is not celebrated at 3:00 a.m.!)

Other websites assert that the rooster was present at Jesus’ birth and crowed to all of the other animals to announce the arrival, representing the Christian virtue of watchfulness and readiness.  Another tradition says that the rooster crows all through the the night on Christmas Eve and well into Christmas morning to keep the evil spirits from spoiling the holy time. Protestant churches often feature a rooster to represent several concepts, including both the birth and the Resurrection (reminding the viewer of Peter’s denial of Christ as described in Luke).  In some European traditions, the rooster is on the roof of the nativity scene. The rooster has special significance in many cultures.  Now thatI think about it, I’m certain my mom has a rooster in her nativity set!

According to the description of Misa del Gallo, some people bring roosters to the Mass.  I know that Roger often picks up our rooster, Russell Crow, but I don’t know if he would want to take Russell to Mass!  What a racket that would be!

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