If you know any Filipinos in your community, you might have noticed a star-shaped lantern decorating their home during Advent and Christmas. These parols (“lanterns”) are usually made of bamboo frames covered with paper and tinsel. A light bulb or candle placed inside illuminates the colorful paper.
For Filipinos, parols are the sign that Christmas is near. During a family visit to the Philippines I remember walking a completely dark road in the countryside at night. Only the stars above and the parol hanging from my family’s porch gave any illumination.For Filipinos, parols are the sign that Christmas is near. I remember walking a dark road in the countryside at night in the Philippines. Only the stars above and the parol hanging from my family’s porch gave any illumination. Click To Tweet
If there are Filipinos in your parish community, you might acknowledge their presence by incorporating parols into your church’s Advent and Christmas environment. Ask one of them to provide one for the vestibule or outdoor space. Or better yet, invite them to teach your parishioners how to make a parol for their own homes. Then create a larger one for your parish. You can adapt the blessing of an Advent wreath from the Book of Blessings to bless these parols.
The last nine days of Advent are also important for the Filipino community. It’s when they celebrate Simbang Gabi, or “church in the night.” Traditionally, they gather at the parish each day before dawn for a joyful Mass. (In more recent years, this has been moved to the evening.) Following Mass is a feast of food and fellowship.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”