Decorations

The Filipino Christmas would not be complete without the traditional Philippine Christmas symbols and decorations. Christmas lights are strung about in festoons, as the tail of the Star of Bethlehem in Belens, in shapes like stars, Christmas trees, angels, and in a large variety of other ways, even going as far as draping the whole outside of the house in lights. Aside from Western decorations like Santa Claus, Christmas trees, tinsel, etc, the Philippines has its own ways of showing that it is the holidays.

Though not strictly a custom, every Christmas season, Filipino homes and buildings are adorned with beautiful star lanterns, called parol (Span. farol, meaning lantern or lamp). The earliest parols were traditionally made from simple materials like bamboo sticks, Japanese rice paper (known as "papel de Hapon") or crepe paper, and a candle or coconut oil-lamp for illumination; although the present day parol can take many different shapes and forms. The most base form of the lantern is a 5-pointed star with two "tails" at the lower two tips. Other variations are 4, 8, 10 pointed stars with the rarer 6, 16 and so on pointed stars. The parol is also traditionally made of lacquered paper and bamboo, but others are made of cellophane, plastic, rope, capiz shell and a wide variety of materials. Making parols is a folk craft, and most Filipino kids have tried their hand at making a parol at one time or another, maybe as a school project or otherwise. The most basic parol can be easily constructed with just ten bamboo sticks, paper, and glue. These lanterns represent the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings (Tatlong Hari in Tagalog). Parols are to Filipinos as Christmas trees are to Westerners- an iconic and beloved symbol of the holiday.