The ‘Parol’ of Our Lives: Christ

Simon Fe Dolor

Christmas is celebrated early by devout Catholic countries. Christmas music and decorations start to pop up as early as September in every homes and cities. One of these décor that is extremely common in a country like the Philippines is the display of the christmas parol.

The parol from the Spanish word farol or lantern, is a traditional christmas décor from the Spansh colonial period in the Philippines. The most common shape now is a star to represent the star of Bethlehem. Thou different materials are used today with flickering lights on display, simple bamboo and japanese paper were originally used before to produce parols. In the Philippines these were carried in a procession called Panunuluyan (Lodging). A tradition of the reenactment of Joseph and Mary searching for a place to stay in Bethlehem.

The parol is an excquisite decoration during advent season. Christmas lanterns typically star in form is a reminder of the bright star of Bethlehem who appeared before the Nativity of Jesus. “Who having heard the king, went their way; and behold the star which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was.  And seeing the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” (Matthew 2:9-10 Douay-Rheims Bible)

It was the three kings guided by this star that they found the greatest treasure and honor they could have, to bow to the King of Kings. “And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

Convicts who are parolled are definitive of mankind being bound to sin who are redeemed by the star of Hope.

In the Philippines, during Simbang Gabi or midnight mass, the parols serve as lights to everyone attending the very early dawn masses for nine days before christmas. Many cities have different christmas lantern designs but the shape of a star is most common to depict the star of the Nativity.

The star that appeared that night is no ordinary star, for it symbolizes the great light, hope and joy that came to mankind. The mystic Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich in her accounts describe the joy the world had the night the Nativity of Our Lord:

In these pictures of Christ’s Birth, which I see as an historical event and not as a Feast of the Church, I do not see such radiant and ecstatic joy in nature as I do on Christmas night when the vision that I see expresses an interior significance. Yet I saw in this vision an unwonted joy and an extraordinary movement at midnight in many places even to the uttermost parts of the earth. I saw the hearts of many good men filled with joyful yearning, while all the wicked were overcome by great fear.

Such peace and spiritual joy indeed the night Our Lord Savior was born. But the spiritual significance of the parol we see around us are blurred by modernism and consumerism. Many are stressed out during Christmas for work becomes more intense and expenses are inevitable. Many have become materialistic in celebrating Christmas in finding the best gifts and fancy luxuries. Many have become busy and lose sight of the true meaning of the celebration. It’s the most important birthday of our lives as Christians. And yet many fail to greet, worship and thank Him for the gift of that special day.

Let’s bring back that peace and joy in our hearts everytime we see a Christmas Parol. Follow the example of the three kings of finding our true treasure and King. They were aided by that Star of Bethlehem, and so are we today and most especially on Christmas day.

“Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him.” (Matthew 2:2)

Let the Christmas parol remind us who to adore. 

The Light and parol of our lives that is Christ.

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