Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Parol (lantern) made from Capiz shells
Parol (lantern) made from Capiz shells

My mother is from Manila, Philippines.  In the Philippines, Christmas is extremely important to Filipino-Catholics, and the season runs from September into January.  The parol is the symbol of Christmas in the Philippines much in the way that the Christmas tree is in the US.    Parol  is from the Spanish word for lantern, farol. The parol was traditionally used to light the way to the church for Simbang Gabi, or Misa de Gallo (Rooster Mass), which is midnight mass on Christmas Eve.  It is commonly made from capiz shell or abaca. 

Christmas Eve is the center of the Christmas celebration, and after midnight mass a giant feast called Noche Buena is served.  This will often go into the hours of the morning with family and friends coming and going and enjoying lechon (roast pig), ham, pancit (noodles), rice cakes, sweets, and drinks.  

When my mother moved to California at the age of 28, she was surprised to find that Christmas Eve in the US is generally a quiet affair, with Christmas Day being the main event. So my family kept Filipino Christmas.  Every year, we go to midnight mass and then have a giant traditional feast afterwards, and spend Christmas morning sleeping (or eating again). And even though we get a Christmas tree, the holidays don't start until we hang the parol on the front porch.  

Place(s): Philippines
Year: 1982

– Carlyn Cowen

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant