This post is also available in: Spanish
There is nothing more traditional on Christmas Eve than the midnight mass. Many Christian churches celebrate this ritual all over the country and for a lot of Panamanians it is a very special day, where they await the Birth of the Christ and at the same time spend time together as a family.
The Christmas Mass began in the early years of Christianity, where vigils were held before every feast for the purpose of preparing for the feast itself. Mass would be held in the evening, followed by a period of prayer and contemplation.
The Catholic Church has four Masses for Christmas – the Vigil, Mass at midnight, Mass at dawn and Mass during the day. The readings begin with the human origins of Jesus in Matthew’s genealogy. This is the Vigil. Midnight Mass concentrates on the account of the birth and the angels. The visit of the shepherds is covered in the Dawn Mass and finally the Day Mass tells of the divine origins of the newborn baby, taken from the magnificent prologue of John’s Gospel (day). But Midnight Mass is the Christmas tradition par excellence where Christians make a special effort to attend church and celebrate the birth of the son of God.
Here is a list of a churches which have services on Christmas Eve:
- Nuestra Señora de la Merced, Casco Antiguo, (Spanish mass): 8:00 p.m.
- Santuario Nacional del Corazón de María, Banking Area, (Spanish mass): 8:00 p.m.
- Basilica Don Bosco, Calidonia, (Spanish mass): 8:00 p.m.
- St Mary’s Church, Balboa (English mass): 5:45 p.m.
- St Luke’s Episcopal Church, Ancon (English mass): 7:00 pm