Victor Alemán/Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Thousands of Filipino Catholics from throughout Southern California are celebrating “Simbang Gabi,” one of the oldest Filipino Christmas traditions.

The nine-day celebration, which began Dec. 15, dates back nearly 500 years and begins nine nights before Christmas Eve. During Simbang Gabi, an Advent Mass is celebrated before dawn or in the evening of each day in preparation for Christmas.

“I pray that these coming days will be a beautiful time for your families to draw closer and to renew your love for one another in Jesus Christ,” said Archbishop Luis Gomez, who presided at the liturgy presented by the Filipino Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “Above all, in this beautiful season, let’s try to make Christ’s presence felt in the hearts and lives of others. Let’s try to be a source of hope and optimism for other people.”

Auxiliary Bishop Alex Aclan for the San Fernando Pastoral Region of the Archdiocese thanked all “who have contributed to the Simbang Gabi celebration now in its 30th year in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

The San Fernando Region Inter-Parish Grand Choir, with 82 members from different parishes in the San Fernando Valley participated in the “Parade of Parols,” or lanterns, of 124 parishes from the five pastoral regions in the tri-county Archdiocese (LA, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties).

Other, scheduled celebrations and services include:

— St. Elisabeth of Hungary, Van Nuys, 7 p.m. (through Dec. 23); Our Lady of the Valley, Canoga Park, 5 a.m. (through Dec. 24); St. Catherine of Siena, Reseda, 6 a.m. (through Dec. 24).

— St. Genevieve, Panorama City, Dec. 19-21 and 23-24, 5:30 a.m., Dec. 22, 5 a.m.

— St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Encino, and St. Euphrasia, Granada Hills, Dec. 19, both at 7 p.m.

 — St. Ferdinand, San Fernando, and St. Bernardine of Siena, Woodland Hills, Dec. 20, both at  7 p.m.

— Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Sun Valley, 5:30 p.m.; St. Bridget of Sweden Church, Lake Balboa, and St. John Baptist de la Salle, Granada Hills, Dec. 21 both at 7 p.m.;

— St. Didacus, Sylmar, 4 p.m., and Our Lady of Lourdes, Northridge, 7:15 p.m., Dec. 22.

— and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park, 7 p.m., Dec. 23.