Filipinos making traditional Christmas lanterns in Canada

Rosalyn Salanguit shows off her traditional Christmas lanterns. Photo by Gian Paolo Mendoza | CBC

Members of the Filipino communities across Canada, including those in British Columbia, are spreading some cheer this holiday season using traditional Christmas lanterns.

The CBC‘s Gian Paolo Mendoza spoke with members of the Filipino community in Vancouver, including Rosalyn Salanguit.

Salanguit made her own Christmas lanterns, known in the Philippines as “parols”, during the pandemic. She grew up watching her father make them, and decided that this year was as good as any to start making it a fun family activity.

“Right now, especially when we are now forced to stay in and we’re really having that time to reflect on what’s important to us … it’s like those times I took for granted when I was watching my dad make those parols are now traditions I want to carry for myself,” Salanguit told the CBC.

“My dad would make the real big ones and the ones with all the frills and all the different colours on there. His would have the Christmas lights that would flash glowing around it,” Salanguit shared with the CBC.

The lantern is representative of the Christmas Star that the Three Kings followed on their journey to the manger.

Traditional Filipino Christmas lanterns are made of made of simple, colourful materials wrapped around a bamboo frame.

These lanterns come in many shapes and sizes, from the simple bamboo lanterns wrapped in cellophane to huge aluminum lanterns lit from inside by LED bulbs.

Christmas lanterns are part of the Filipino tradition of attending midnight masses. Catholics would attend a series of pre-dawn masses called “Simbang Gabi” nine days before Christmas Eve.

The Christmas lanterns would be hung outside the windows of homes, guiding Filipinos who would be walking in the darkness on their way to the local church.

Bert Monterona also spoke with the CBC, talking about the proliferation of the Christmas lanterns in the Philippines.

“Since it’s using bamboo and … Japanese paper [that] are very cheap, you can even see some parols during Christmas in rural areas and even in the mountains living in the farmland,” Monterona told the CBC.


traditional christmas lanterns

A Filipino family in Calgary, Alberta is selling traditional Christmas lanterns to raise funds for typhoon victims in the Philippines.

Eric Dizon and his family came up with the idea of selling Christmas lanterns to benefit those affected by typhoons.

Traditional Christmas lanterns are called “parol” in the Philippines, and are seasonal decorations in many Filipino households.

The Filipino ornamental lantern is typically hung outside homes during the Christmas season. Star shaped bamboo frame are covered in colourful material, including japanese paper. A small light bulb or candle lights the lantern from the inside.

“Parol” is derived from the Spanish word for lantern.

The parol represents the Star of Bethlehem (also known as the Christmas Star), which guided the Three Kings to the manger in the Nativity story.

The Philippines is the only Southeast Asian country with a predominantly Catholic population.

Dizon spoke with Mike Symington of the CBC, saying that they came up the idea to provide Canadian families with a fun activity they could do together.

“We had an idea of making a parol kit, the Filipino Christmas lantern as a kit wherein people can buy it and families can make it, especially for this Christmas,” Dizon told the CBC.

Dizon told the CBC that proceeds from the project would be used to benefit Filipinos affected by the typhoons.

“This year it’s been kinda tough, we had two super typhoons, we heard it on the news, and we also have friends and family, friends here in Calgary, whose families were affected,” Dizon told the CBC.

Each kit contains everything to assemble a traditional Filipino Christmas lantern.

Members of the local community have gone out to support the project, including Girlie Salaido, who bought 10 kits from Dizon.

Salaido is enjoying assembling them with her son.

“My son who basically grew up here [in Calgary] while doing it I’m sharing the stories of when I was young and so it just brings back all the fond memories from back home,” Salaido told the CBC.

To get in touch with Dizon to buy a traditional Filipino Christmas lantern, click here.

SOURCE: Mike Symington | CBC is NOT affiliated with the Government of Canada, the Philippine Government, or any Philippine recruitment agencies or Canadian immigration consultants or lawyers.

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