Parol (pa-ROL) is the Filipino pronunciation of the Spanish farol or lantern. Its design is derived from the piñata which itself originated in Italy then was brought to Spain, to Mexico, then finally to the Philippines.
In the Spanish period when the Misas de Aguinaldo (Gift Masses) and the Misa de Gallo (Mass of the Rooster) were held during the wee hours of the morning or before midnight, lanterns lit the way to and from church.
As the parol evolved throughout the ages from candlelit or kerosene-fueled lanterns to the electric-bulb glowing stars, the ever creative Filipino finally incorporated the now classic design after the Star of Bethlehem that guided the shepherds and the wise men to a stable where the Baby Jesus was laid out on a manger.
Today, these lanterns adorn homes as well as public places, heralding the joyous Christmas season, highlighted not only by a gloriously decorated tree, but also by the brightly lit parol.