MANILA, Philippines – Instead of Advent wreaths, Filipino Catholics should hang “parols” (star lanterns) in their homes and churches this Christmas, a Catholic bishop said Saturday.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the practice of hanging Advent wreaths comes from Protestant traditions in Europe while the parol is “the most popular symbol of our Filipino Christmas tradition.”
“In consultation with liturgists who advocate for Filipino expressions of our Catholic faith, we want to offer the ‘parol ng halina’ [Advent parols] as an alternative to the European advent wreath,” Villagas said in a statement.
He said each of the four Advent “parols” may be lighted inside churches for every week in the advent season, “the third parol being colored rose or pink while the three others are purple as usual.”
“With the introduction of the ‘parol ng halina’, the practice of having a white parol travel from one end of the church to eventually stop on top of the crib during the Christmas midnight Mass will also become more relevant and meaningful,” Villegas said.
“I propose the ‘parol ng halina’ for your consideration. The important matter to remember is to help our people celebrate meaningfully the Advent season in a way that is truly Catholic and truly Filipino, he added.
Villegas noted that although coming from the Protestant traditions of Europe, the practice of having Advent wreaths in Catholic homes and churches has been adopted by many in the Catholic Church.
“While we do not prohibit the continuation of this tradition, may I respectfully offer an alternative to the Advent wreath that may be more relevant and meaningful for the Filipino Catholic,” he said.
Villegas said the “parol”, which is usually designed as a star, is reminiscent of the Star of Bethlehem.
“It calls to mind the search of the wise men in the Gospel of Matthew ‘Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him,”” Villegas said.
“The parol can also help us to remember the account of creation in the Book of Genesis ‘God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He also made the stars,'” he said.
“The parol may also help us reflect on the promise of the Lord to Abraham our father in faith ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and will give to your seed all these lands. In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed,'” Villegas added.