This Tagalog poem by Filipino poet José Corazón de Jesús is about a beautiful parol made by a grandfather. Parol is the traditional lantern that’s ubiquitous during the Christmas season in the Philippines.
Being mostly Catholics, Filipinos start a novena (a series of nine masses) on December 16th. The masses are part of the cherished religious tradition of Simbang Gabi, which literally means “Night Worship.” It’s an accomplishment to attend all nine masses!
Filipinos go to church at four o’clock in the morning and afterward have breakfast together. A traditional drink during this season is a warm ginger tea called salabat and a traditional treat is a flat but thick yellow rice cake called bibingka.
PASKO: CHRISTMAS IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Tagalog word Pasko derives from the Spanish word Pascua. Although the word Pascua means Easter, Pascua de Navidad refers to Christmas.
The Philippines is known for having the world’s longest Christmas season. The four months that end with the syllable –ber are considered Christmas months, which is why stores and households start playing carols on the first day of September! And the holiday season extends beyond December 31st. It doesn’t end until the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings (Tatlong Hari) which falls around January 6.
If Mexico has piñatas, the Philippines has its parol. Of course, a parol is not something to hit with a stick. It is a Christmas lantern, most commonly in the shape of a five-pointed star. The bamboo or rattan frame is covered with rice paper, tissue or cellophane. Almost every family either builds or buys one to hang by the window or door. Shopping malls construct giant versions of parol. Traditionally, a candle was placed inside for light to shine through; for safety reasons, people now use bulbs or even a flashlight.