The Parol and the Belen: A Christmas Greeting

What images and memories awaken in your mind as Christmas approaches ? Do you see The Parol and the Belen ? I do. believe it or not there was a time when the house was decorated with The Parol and the Belen during Christmas. The Christmas Tree came only later.

Of course most of you would know that the Parol or Christmas Lantern was meant to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem that heralded the Birth of Jesus Christ. It guided the Magi to a manger in Betlehem. And of course most of you would be familiar with the Nativity scene that is the Belen. It is said that the first Belen was staged by Saint Francis of Assisi – my favorite Saint who loved animals and appreciated the gastronomic delights of fried pig knuckles or crispy pata.

The complete nativity scene was as follows – Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph at the center of the manger surrounded by hay and barn animals. The star of Bethlehem guiding the Magi on their camels bearing gifts. And from the other side Shepherds who were told by an Angel of the birth of a Savior and the same Angel instructed them to visit the Christ. and then an army if Angels filled the sky saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

Now if you were the Shepherds would you or would yo not go ?

Of course the Nativity Scene is the union of the accounts written in the Gospel of Matthew and Luke. The two took different roads to the Nativity. In one aspect Matthew focused on the Magi while Luke focused on the Shepherds. It is interesting that in one instance it took tha appearance of a Star to herald the birth of the Savior and in another an Angel heraldethe birth of the Christ. Some view may view this as two approaches to understanding God, Reason and Faith.

But we are getting lost in our way.

The Parol and The Belen. Did you know that before they had a manequin show at the COD store in Cubao and the highlight of each show was the Nativity. And in Greenhills they used to have a big diorama of Bethlehem and the Nativity. It was nice thing to see and we did everytime we dropped by Greenhills. My friend Gino remarked several times that the diorama could double as the re-enacment of the Yom Kippur War.

It is time again, Today is the 24th Christmas Eve – mass, gifts and Noche Buena for a number of Filipinos. Some will have all three. Some will have opted for one or two. And sadly some will have none at all.

At present Christmas has become different for all of us. A religious celebration; a time to meet family and friends; and a break from work. For whatever reason it is Christmas.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All !

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