Advent 2020


Follow that star: Christmas in Asia

The Philippines has one of the longest Christmas celebrations in the world. Filipinos start with the first day of the first 'ber' month (September) and stretch it until a few days after the first week of January. 

If you arrive in the country by the third quarter of the year, don't be surprised to already hear Christmas carols playing on radios or as merry background music in malls and other public places. Expect to see colorful lanterns called the parol – a Filipino creative depiction of the Christmas star. Over the weeks and months, streets and the windows of many households will slowly be lit up by big and small variations of this star, adding to the build-up of the excitement for the big day.

This curious anticipation to commemorate the first coming of Jesus has given me a cultural lens on how to await his second coming. While it is certainly wonderful that a day will come when "all the tears and fears" of today will be finally put to an end, the difficult days in between need not be marked with anguish. Instead, they can be spent as a prolonged season of giving people, especially those suffering the most, glimpses here and there of that merry celebration of the coming new creation.

"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed." (Matthew 2:10)

Rei Crizaldo works in Tearfund’s Asia office. He’s the author of several books, including Boring Ba Ang Bible Mo? (Is your Bible boring?)