Filipinos take Christmas seriously. Like they start Christmas decorating in October type of serious. We visited family in the Philippines almost every Christmas, so we were fortunate to experience a true Filipino Christmas with all our titas, titos, lolas, lolos, cousins, second cousins, nephews, nieces, godchildren, and whomever in between.
The one thing I look most forward to, besides family and food obviously, is seeing all the beautiful parols.
What is a parol?
Also written as paról or parul, it is a Filipino ornamental lantern displayed during Christmastime. The name parol roots from the Spanish word “farol”, which translates into “lantern”. Later on, Filipino locals adapted this term into what is now known as “parol” – a major part of the Philippine Christmas celebration.
What is a parol made of?
It is believed that in 1928, a local artisan named Francisco Estanislao created the first parol out of bamboo strips and Japanese paper. To light up a parols, people use either candles, oil lamps, or carbide lamps. Nowadays, parols are often electrical and made of plastic, metal, or capiz shells.
Most commonly, it is in the form of a five-pointed star. Sometimes, you will see a six-pointed or as much as eight. Although it is most commonly 12 inches by 24 inches, you can find parols in a wide variety of sizes from mini ones you find on a Christmas tree or 30 feet tall parols in the middle of SM Mall of Asia.
No matter what form it is in, the parol is the most recognizable Christmas symbol for Filipinos all around the world and never fails to touch the hearts of many as it does mine.
How do you make a parol?
Although we have yet to make a parol ourselves, it’s supposedly easy.
This year, we will be making our very first parol along with our brother, Rayan, and significant others. For our versions, we decided to make them as ornaments so ours will be both small and simple in design and materials.
If you’d like to make your own Philippine parol, you can just search “how to make a Filipino parol” on your favorite search engine. If you’d like to follow the same one as us, we followed a FREE video and printables from a Los Angeles based gift shop called Manila Oriental.
QUICK FILIPINO AMERICAN BIZ SHOUTOUT!
Los Angeles, CA – Manila Oriental originally started as the Manila Oriental Food Store sometime in 1983 by Olivia and Kathrine’s relatives in Phoenix, Arizona. As an Asian American family owned store, generations of family members worked at that store until it was sold before Oliva and Kathrine had a chance to finally work there.
Despite the store being sold, the lifelong lessons and importance of family, roots, community and culture never left Olivia and Kathrine’s minds. As homage to their family who have paved the way for them, who introduced them to their most loved foods and values that give them Pilipino pride, Manila Oriental is now a gift shop celebrating modern Filipino American heritage and is run by two Filipino American sisters and mothers, Olivia and Kathrine.
Christmas with the Tejadas
For the remainder of December, we will be posting how we celebrate Christmas! Of course, due to COVID-19, we are unable to celebrate Christmas with our parents who live outside the U.S. as well as family in the Philippines.
Despite the distance, this is our chance to make our own traditions as siblings and with our non-Filipino significant others. It’s also a chance to make this a sort of “time-capsule” situation to see how our traditions will evolve as we continue to grow.
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