There is nothing more popular as a Christmas decoration in the Philippines than the Star Lantern locally known as Parol (Pah-rroll). All through out the Christmas Season, star shaped lanterns can be found hanging outside their homes and along side streets. Parol making in the Philippines starts as early as 3 months before Christmas.
History of Parol
The earliest parols were traditionally made from simple materials like bamboo sticks, Japanese rice paper, crepe paper, and a candle or coconut oil-lamp for illumination; although the present day parol can take many different shapes and forms. Around Manila, parols made of Capiz shell or plastic illuminate the city.
One of the most spectacular innovations can be found in the city of San Fernando where 20 foot tall parols with kaleidoscopic blinking lights are paraded through the streets on truck beds. Whatever the material or shape, the parol is a recognizable symbol to all Filipinos and represents the star ofBethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men to the manger of the newly-born Jesus Christ.
The word parol comes from the Spanish word for lantern, farol. According to World Book's Christmas in the Philippines, the roots of the parol can be found in the Mexican piñata.
The piñata came to Spain from Italy in the 1300's, spread to Mexico and finally came to the Philippines when the Spaniards brought Christianity to the islands. The book A Child's Pasko: Christmas in the Philippines explains that the parol was originally used to light the way to church to attend the daily Misas de Aguinaldo, or Gift Masses, which begin on the 16th of December, and ends with the Misa de Gallo, or "Mass of the Rooster" at midnight of Christmas eve. The midnight mass is followed by a usuallylavish meal at home, which is always anticipated by the kids. The first Misa de Aguinaldo that is held at dawn on December 16th marks the official start of the Christmas season.