A quaint, traditional and shining star-shaped lantern that Filipinos hang outside of their homes, buildings, or just about everywhere, the Philippine parol is the quintessential symbol of Christmas in the Philippines.
Conventionally made by Catholic Filipinos out of the ubiquitous bamboo strips found everywhere the tropical Philippines, the parol symbolizes the star of Bethlehem, the star that Catholics believe to have led the three biblical kings Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar to the humble manger where Jesus Christ was born in Israel.
It used to be medium in size and natural in look, usually made of capiz shells, sea shells, or plain colored paper.
Over time, ingenious Filipinos have made parol into a world-class Christmas decoration with tens to thousands of lights shining in coordinated, rhythmic, eye-catching patterns.
The size of the parol has also become bigger than before, reaching several meters in height and width and several pounds in weight. Some parols also need to be hauled in ten-wheeler trucks.
The city of San Fernando, Pampanga in Central Luzon, Philippines is the setting of the much-anticipated Giant Lantern Festival, an annual competition of the biggest, brightest, and most awe-inspiring parols made by the local Filipinos.
Today, the Philippine parol has become so popular across the world that anyone can easily order it online or from export-oriented suppliers from the Philippines.
The creation of parol and other handcrafted Christmas decors has also spawned a sustainable industry in the Philippines that gives jobs to hundreds of Filipinos.
Below is an easy tutorial on how to make the Philippine parol that many Filipinos hang during Christmas season.
Tools Needed for Making a Parol
- a pair of scissors
- adhesive tape
- glue or paste
- gold or silver glitters
- square colored paper, about 60 centimeters by 60 centimeters
- thin bamboo strips, 2 pieces, about 80 centimeters in length
- wire strips, 10 pieces, about 18 centimeters in length
- wire strips, 5 pieces, about 8 centimeters in length
Directions for Making a Parol
- Tie the ends of each of the two 80-centimeter bamboo strips together to form two circles. Use the thread for tying. Make sure that the threads are strong as the circles would be the base of the whole parol.
- Using the two circles, create a circular frame for the parol. To do this, twist five of the 18-centimeter wire strips and attach their ends to the two circles.
- Set the circular frame aside for a while.
- Get the colored paper and fold it into two equal parts. Trace a five-point star on it. The size of the star should more or less fit in the star-shaped bamboo frame for the parol. Cut out the star and get the stars.
- Mount one star on each side of the circular bamboo frame.
- Now, make a star frame from the circular frame and the two cut-out pieces of star paper mounted onto it. Use the other five pieces of 18-centimeter wire strips to trace the star frame on both sides of the frame.
- Then, place the five pieces of eight-centimeter wire strips at the middle of the star frame. Doing this will give the parol a three-dimensional look and make it look perfectly puffy.
- Secure all the ends of the star frame with thread.
- Cover the gaps in the star frame with colored paper.
- Decorate the parol with glitters.
- Add tails to the two ends of the parol by cutting out colored papers.
- Your parol is now ready to be hung.
When and Where Filipinos Hang the Parol
Parol is all around the Philippines during Christmas season – from the window sills to the jeepneys. By tradition, parol is hung outside the house. People also hang parol as early as November each year, immediately after Halloween.
Copyright © 2011 Kerlyn Bautista
All Rights Reserved
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5678 on December 10, 2011:
Virginia Kearney from United States on November 11, 2011:
I'm going to get my children together to make these!
irvinetraveller from California on November 11, 2011:
I thoroughly enjoyed your hub especially the videos. Thank you.
naeemebrahimjee from London on November 11, 2011:
Those are really cool!
It's something you never see around here. Think it looks great for the kids to make :D
Cresentmoon2007 from Caledonia, MI on November 11, 2011:
Those are so lovely. Thank you for sharing.