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The “PAROL” (Christmas Lantern)

Guest post written by: Lana Jelenjev for The Art of Home Education

Do you know which country celebrates Christmas the longest? If you guess the Philippines, then you are correct. From where I came from, Christmas is celebrated as early as September! When the “-ber” month hits, you can hear Christmas carols being played, the streets starting to be adorned with Christmas decorations and children carolers begin their practice and prepare their instruments (yes, for children it is serious stuff looking for the bottle caps to be turned as tambourines). What is also noticeable is our Christmas lanterns or PAROL (pronounced “pah-roll” from the Spanish “farol”) as it is called in Filipino. There’s no greater symbol of the Filipino Christmas spirit than the parol.

Parols are made to resemble the star of Bethlehem and its role as a light that guided the three wise men to Jesus. The parol was traditionally made from simple materials like bamboo sticks, papel de Hapon (Japanese paper), candle or coconut-oil lamp. The parol during those times are used to light up the path of church goers during the yuletide dawn masses called Misa de Gallo, which starts from the 16th of December and ends December 24. These masses were held at 4 o clock in the morning although in the Philippines it is known as “Simbang gabi” (night mass) and was ordered to be so by Pope Sixtus V during that time because of the desire of people to attend the mass but they need to also tend to the harvest. As a compromise, the early masses where set so devoters can still go and hear mass, then go back to the fields to work after with their parol lighting their way.

Nowadays, parols are made of Capiz shells or plastic. In the province where I came from, Pampanga, parols as high as 20 feet can be seen and we also celebrate the Giant Lantern Festival, with a bevy of lanterns of different shapes and sizes. Locally, the festival is known as the “Ligligan Parul” (Showdown of Giant Lanterns) and showcasing what the artisans of Pampanga are renowned for- their ability to create the biggest and most elaborate parol in the country.
So naturally if there is something that I would like my children to know about how we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines, I would start with the iconic parol.

Here is a step by step guide on how we made our paper parol.

1.First pick a colored paper and make it into a square. Then fold it into a triangle like this

2.Make another fold.

3.When it is folded put the folded edge to your side and the open ones facing the opposite. Make straight lines leaving about a half inch to the top and ask your child to cut along the lines.

4.Now ask your child to open the paper carefully.

5. Now tape the middle pieces together.

6. Turn it to the back and tape the next ones together. Do the same for the rest of the flaps.

7. We need to make 6 of these so let’s get back to folding and cutting.

8. Put together the two pieces using a staple. First staple the middle parts together.

9. Then staple one of the ends together.

10. Keep on making and stapling.

11. you will see your parol starting to take shape like this.

12. Just add some more. Remember please do take caution when letting your little ones use the stapler.

Now here it is!

And now, the kids are ready to give their first parol made to their friends with self-made Christmas cards as well!

About The Author

About Lana Jelenjev Lana is a curriculum innovator, an engaged parent and a passionate educator. She writes about activities to do at home and in school to promote engagement at Visibly Engaged and also document their family’s activities at 365 Days of Motherhood. She works as a parent coach and trainer on topics related to family life and child development and as a budding entrepreneur. She is in the process of opening a webshop that sells fun, educational and engaging toys and resources for the family. Currently, she is also writing a book on activities to promote involvement at home which is set to be released mid of 2014.

8 comments on “The “PAROL” (Christmas Lantern)

  1. MissNeriss
    December 16, 2013

    I love this! But I think I’ll need some hands on training!

    • The Art of Home Education
      December 18, 2013

      I know what you mean! Maybe we can get real life instructions from Lana. Wouldn’t that be great?

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