The parol or Christmas lantern is a traditional decoration of a Filipino house during the holidays.
The word parol or Christmas lantern is derived from the Spanish farol which means street lamp or lantern. It is a traditional Christmas decoration in the Philippines next only to the Christmas tree in terms of popularity. The usually five-pointed star lantern symbolizes the star in the Biblical account that guided the three magi to Bethlehem to pay homage to infant Jesus. Lanterns are usually sold by mid November, and the increase of demand and sales start by the beginning of December. Image via Wikipedia
The lanterns come in variety of sizes and colors. Some have rings around them, others do not. The frame of the “star’ is made from thin bamboo strips. It is covered or wrapped in a colored transparent crepe paper. The ring is made of a larger bamboo strip that is bent into a circle. The ring may be totally round or an incomplete circle. It maybe wrapped in old newspapers or any paper to make the surface round and thicker. It is then coiled with cut rice papers with loops pattern to cover entire length of the ring. Tassels of thin strip of papers are hung at the point connecting the bottom tips of the “star” and the ring. The tassels or tails of the “star” signify its “ray”. Usually, the upper half of the length of the tassels are swathed with a decoratively cut paper. There are lanterns that have only one tail when they have a ring with full circle. Blinking lights are usually placed on the surface of the “star” or around its ring. Although the parol is literally a lantern, great numbers are made with no lights. Christmas lanterns are not displayed in the house but outdoors. They are usually hung from the eaves.
Image via Wikipedia
Making Christmas lantern is a folk craft in the Philippines. Some people make it as seasonal means of livelihood in the months of November and December. Prisoners of Misamis Oriental jail are allowed by the provincial authorities to make lantern to enable them to earn income for their families during the Christmas season.
Star-shaped lanterns come in variety of prices and designs from the intricately made to the simplest. Adults usually design and make them, but children are also capable of doing them. In the Philippines especially in the rural areas it is a common practice to hold a parol or Christmas lantern making contest in public halls or grounds and in the elementary school campuses just before Christmas break.
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