In the Filipino language, a Christmas lantern is called a parol. There's no greater symbol of the Filipino Christmas spirit than the parol. All through the Christmas season, star-shaped lanterns can be found hanging outside homes and along the streets of cities and small provincial towns, farms and fishing villages. Whatever the material or shape, the parol is a recognizable symbol to all Filipinos and represents the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men to the manger of the newly-born Jesus Christ.
The parol is a main component in the Filipino celebration of Christmas, which has become a Festival of Lights. The festivities cover the months ending with "BER" which are September, October, November and of course December. Christmas music can be heard sporadically in the beginning of September, and one could feel an increasing sense of the coming of Christmas as more and more Christmas songs are blared in the mall, played on the radio, and as more homes, businesses, streets and parks become brightly lit with wonderful colors. The malls and department stores are the first ones to decorate, and showcase their mangers and beautiful parols.
Christmas in the Mall
Sitting at the kitchen table last night I felt my chair and the floor swaying a bit for a minute or so. Kurt was out jogging so he didn't notice it as he ran. It was pretty mild but what a weird feeling to be 'sitting still' but moving. And it reminded me of the verse Psalm 46:2-4 " Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells."
Psalm 33 says "1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.... 4 For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love."
The Lord has been teaching me more and more about praising Him in easy and hard times. No matter where we are on earth, He is with us. The early morning song of the birds, the beautiful colors of the sunset, the lush greenery of plants are all reminders of God's creativity and love. More and more I find myself falling in love with this place.
"13 From heaven the LORD
looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.....21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name."
Malls are noisy places. Not only is there the noise of people walking and talking, there is the noise of music blaring from loud speakers in the walkways, the din of merchants talking, special displays playing DVD's, perhaps a band or music group singing...it is hard to talk with the one you are shopping with. The grocery stores are located within each mall so this noise sensation gets experienced on a once or twice weekly basis.
The streets are noisy places. In the Philippines, the car horn is a tool and used frequently by all drivers to alert each other of being next to them, in the intersection, etc. There are horns honking, dogs barking, people talking, whistles blowing..... At any time of day you can hear roosters crowing, dogs barking, vehicles, horns, etc.
It was 89 degrees today, humid and very hot. We have heard this is the cooler season but we've not felt that to be so ourselves. Yet, for filipinos, we are coming into the cool season.
Case in point, I was shopping at SM mall looking for Christmas gifts for Kurt. A sales clerk said, "Would you like to get jacket for husband?" I said, "No thanks, it is hot here." He smiled and said, "Us Filipinos get cold in December."