Christmas Ornaments with an Asian HeritageWritten by: Joel Yapching
Aparol is an ornamental, star-shaped Christmas lantern from the Philippines. It is traditionally made out of bamboo and paper and generally the star pattern is the most common. The word parol is derived from the Spanish word farol, meaning “lantern”. Originally crafted in 1908 by an artisan named Francísco Estanislao illuminated by a candle or kalburo (carbide). This kind of lantern was used by barrio folk to light their paths during the ritual yuletide dawn Masses called Misa de Gallo, as electricity was yet unavailable at the time in many rural. 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 in the province of Pangpanga 90 miles off of Manila. They held the first lantern “Parol” festival in honor of Manuel Luis Quezón y Molina the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
It was in 1931 that electricity was introduced to the San Fernando lantern, thus sparking the birth of the first Giant Lantern Festival. The added illusion of dancing lights highlighted the bright colors and intricate designs of these Giant Lanterns. At this time, the lights were controlled by individual switches that were turned on and off following the beat of the music.
The design of the parol evokes the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings to the manger. It also symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and the Filipinos’ hope and goodwill during the Christmas season.
There’s no greater symbol of the Filipino Christmas spirit than the PAROL.
History of Parol
Patterns of the paról evolved from the five-pointed paper star lantern originally crafted in 1908 by an artisan named Francísco Estanislao. His creation was made of bamboo strips covered with papél de japón (Japanese paper), illuminated by a candle . This kind of lantern was used by barrio folk to light their paths during the ritual yuletide dawn Masses called Misa de Gallo, as electricity was yet unavailable at the time in many rural areas.
Traditionally, it was believed that if one folded 1000 origami cranes, one’s wish would come true. It has also become a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times. As a result, it has become popular to fold 1000 cranes (in Japanese, called “senbazuru”).