Monday, December 1, 2014

Parol, a Traditional Philippine Christmas Decoration

In the Philippines people adorn their homes with a replica of manger where the infant Jesus was born in Bethlehem, with Christmas tree, with the "parol" or the Philippine Christmas lantern and with other adornments. The parol, especially in the rural area, is a traditional Christmas decoration of Filipino homes. The name parol is derived from the Spanish word “farol” which means lantern or lamp.  


A parol , as its name suggests, is a Christmas lantern that is made in divergent sizes, shapes and colors. It is commonly star shaped although there are lanterns which are shaped as box, bells or others depending on the ingenuity of the makers. Most lanterns which are star-shaped are five-pointed star although there are others that are four-pointed stars. The star shape is inspired with the bright star that guided the three magi in their search for the Infant Jesus. Although a  parol is called a lantern, many are designed and made without light in them. Most of the lanterns are not designed to be carried outdoors but rather they are used to adorn the exterior of the house. Most lighting is Christmas lamps that are attached on the body of the lantern.  Usually, the lantern’s framework is made of thin bamboo strips which are joined and bound with string.  Some designs have ring around the star and tails at the bottom while others have none. The framework is covered with crepe paper that is attached by pasting it on the bamboo strip. Other types of decorative papers are also used. The allure of the finished product depends on the design of the lantern and the paper cutting skill of the maker.  Elaborate paper cutting designs on the body of the star, the ring and tail as well as the attractiveness of the lighting can make a lantern stand out from other lanterns.    
Some poorer Filipino Families can earn additional income during the Christmas season by making parols. September starts the beginning of the month when they make use of their craft in Christmas lantern making. The parol is priced as low as 50 pesos (about 1.15 US dollars) for the smallest and the simplest, and as high as 3,000 pesos (about 69.14 US dollars) for the biggest with the most elegant design and lighting.