December 23, 2011

Christmas in The Philippines - Traditional Christmas Tree and Lantern

Christmas Tree photos by Romeo Ranoco/Reuters
One thing I love about being multicultural is the privilege to enjoy diversities in traditions and celebrations during the holidays. Being born in the Philippines, the way Christmas is celebrated there is as diverse as it's weather. Like clockwork, the country transforms itself into Christmas revelers at the onset of the first day of the first "ber" months. Meaning, if you ever find yourself in the Philippines in September, don't be shock to hear Christmas songs and see an instant display of Christmas decorations everywhere you look! Christmas festivities starts in September!

Now what makes Christmas in the Philippines intricately unique is the country's traditional Christmas tree. It's made up of twigs nailed together and formed in the shape of a Fir tree which are painted in white (see picture above). I believe this was a creative approach to keep up with the Western version of this symbolic tree. Handmade as they are, they do fare well design-wise if I should say so myself.

I can remember having so much fun decorating them with my brothers and sisters growing up. Those were the days. Sweet days...

Then there's the Parol (pronounced “pah-roll” with a rolling "r"). A Christmas lantern, which is a more popular symbol of Christmas in the Philippines. It's traditionally in the shape of a star depicting the Star of Bethlehem, and normally can be seen hanging outside a window or on the streets. They can be simple or lavishly intricate in design. A traditional Parol would either have a lit candle or electric bulb placed inside it to illuminate the lantern which always is a wonderful sight to see come night time!

Simple, traditional Parol designs
Filipino vendor selling Parols on the streets of Manila, Philippines

To Gigantic, exquisite ones illuminated with dazzling display of thousands of colorful Christmas lights...
Seen during Parol Festival in Pampanga, Philippines
Parol photos courtesy of Philippine Tourism
Want to learn how to make one? here's How to make a traditional Parol.

Now that I'm in the US, Holidays like Christmas certainly brings back memories and traditions that will always will be a part of me wherever I go. And though I miss them once in a while...I find comfort in that Christmas is the same whichever country you're in. Just different in some ways. Just like how I now actually have a real Fir tree for a Christmas tree! 

Maligayang Pasko! as how we would say it in the Philippines.

Filipino Stories You'll love:
All Soul's Day - Philippine's Halloween version
Filipino encounter of the rare kind


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