Students in this Workshop will get to experience the way we in the Philippines celebrate Christmas - filled with colors and fun. The Parol (Christmas Lanterns) have evolved through the years in terms of the materials, size, color and even shapes. This Workshop will allow the students to gain an understanding of the true meaning of Parol and at the same time, they can test their innovation skills to make their own version of Parol, making it more personalized.
The Christmas season in the Philippines is filled with vibrance due to the bright, twinkling, and colorful traditional Christmas lantern called the Parol.
This custom has been passed across every island of the Philippines, specifically in the central region of the country. By 1908, Francisco Estanislao, a salt vendor from Bacolor, Pampanga, created the very first big Christmas lantern, which the townspeople began to call the Parol. The word Parol comes from the Spanish word “Farol”, which means a “lantern.”
The craft varies from island to island, depending on the availability of resources in the community. The Parol had undergone several innovations and changes but its essence has stayed the same - a symbol of Christian faith. This craft is usually made as early as the month of June in preparation for the Christmas Season in the Philippines.
I learned to make this item when I was in my primary school years. Every September, our teacher would always require us to bring our own version of Parol which would be hung around our classroom in preparation for Christmas.
The Parol is also the biblical representation of the bright star that guided the Three Kings to the manger of the baby Jesus. Back then, electricity had yet to come to Bacolor (the former capital of Pampanga) and according to popular belief, lanterns were used by the townsfolk to light the streets on their way to attend the midnight mass known as “Simbang Gabi”. Some also say that the lanterns were brought along the procession of patron saints as people walked from barrio to barrio. The early Parols were originally star-shaped and made of bamboo sticks and pale-colored Japanese or crepe paper, and a candle and coconut oil were used to illuminate the lantern.
I am a teacher now and I love making the Parol together with my students.
I hope to make one with you!