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Christmas Celebration and Decoration in a Small Rural Town

Updated on December 28, 2014
Children of Calumpit town in the Philippines light candles for Virgin Mary's statue
Children of Calumpit town in the Philippines light candles for Virgin Mary's statue | Source

The land of true love is still keeping faithfully the Christian traditions passed down to them by the Spanish priests in the year 1572, when they first docked in the town. One can see the joy in the faces of the people as they sing through masses and hear words of sheer love flowing from the mouth of their parochial priest.

And although Christmas may not originally have been a Christian tradition, it was Christianity that introduced it to the people of this town, and they do celebrate it as very zealous Christians, but with a flavor quite unique to them.

The Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando City, the Christmas capital of the Philippines.
The Giant Lantern Festival in San Fernando City, the Christmas capital of the Philippines. | Source

The "Parol"

Parols are lanterns in the shape of stars. They are usually made up of cut bamboo (for the shape) and paper (for the sides).

In the old days, people used to go to processions carrying the images of their patron saints and some lit candles to guide their paths in the dark night. In the year 1908, an artisan named Francisco Estanislao made lanterns in the shape of stars to replace the lit candles. These lanterns were then called parol from farol, the Spanish word for lantern.

Nowadays, it has become a Christmas tradition in the Philippines to light parols at night. The modern parol is run by electricity. Its lights blink on and off with a predetermined pattern. The designs usually used in parol making are stars, leaves, angels and bells that follow the theme of Christmas.

Bright star-shaped lanterns decorate the roads at Christmas time in a town near Calumpit.
Bright star-shaped lanterns decorate the roads at Christmas time in a town near Calumpit. | Source
The star decorations in Calumpit can hardly be seen at night.
The star decorations in Calumpit can hardly be seen at night. | Source

Roads are often filled with parols, the expenses of which are shouldered by the local governments involved.

But private establishments also hang lanterns. Households often allocate money in their budgets for Christmas lights that they would put on their garden plants just to show their neighbors that they have bought some, to save face. It is sometimes shameful not to have Christmas decorations when every house in the vicinity glows with light at night.

A plastic lantern in the shape of a star hangs right beside a sign that prohibits plastics in the town of Calumpit.
A plastic lantern in the shape of a star hangs right beside a sign that prohibits plastics in the town of Calumpit. | Source

Christmas is more important than the law in Calumpit. Curfews are not observed in Christmas time. People would sometimes party all night on the side of the road where they put speakers, tables and chairs. They would drink, sing and dance to the loud music. Disco lights are not an uncommon sight on the road even in the most remote of Calumpit’s villages.

Parols in Calumpit seem to be made of 100% environment-friendly recycled materials. (By common usage, they are called parols or lanterns even when they can not be lit at night.)
Parols in Calumpit seem to be made of 100% environment-friendly recycled materials. (By common usage, they are called parols or lanterns even when they can not be lit at night.) | Source
When it rains, the paper decorations get wet and feeble. You can hardly distinguish the tail from the body of this parol.
When it rains, the paper decorations get wet and feeble. You can hardly distinguish the tail from the body of this parol. | Source

The town of Calumpit has chosen to decorate its roads with star-shaped paper and plastic. Even though the parols are a symbol of the bright night star that led the three kings to find the Savior in the manger, this town’s decorations can hardly be seen at night.

The people would shrug this thought off their minds. Indeed, the decorations hardly matter as the people laugh loudly on the roads with eyes closed, enjoying the company of one another.

Even though the roads do not have it, some houses (like that in the picture below) can be seen with decorations.

As the keepers of their faith, no one can stop the Calumpit town folks from celebrating Christmas with ornaments. And with their great zeal and eagerness to please Santa, they hung not only socks but also some underpants near their parols. We can only just imagine what joy it would bring Doby if he were one of Santa's helpful elves!

These people are indeed avid Christians who would give their all to the faith.

This house in Calumpit is adorned with a bright parol. They hung not only socks for Santa but also some shorts and stuff. Just imagine if Doby were one of Santa's elves!
This house in Calumpit is adorned with a bright parol. They hung not only socks for Santa but also some shorts and stuff. Just imagine if Doby were one of Santa's elves! | Source
However small, whatever the size, parols will surely decorate houses of avid Christians in the small town of Calumpit, the land of true love.
However small, whatever the size, parols will surely decorate houses of avid Christians in the small town of Calumpit, the land of true love. | Source
It's almost Christmas time. Kids in Calumpit town sing at night in the hopes of receiving money from listeners.
It's almost Christmas time. Kids in Calumpit town sing at night in the hopes of receiving money from listeners. | Source

The Carolling

Kids often roam the roads of Calumpit at Christmas Eve to do some carolling. That is, they would go from house to house to sing Christmas songs. If the people liked the songs, they will go out to give some money to the kids.

Some just want to keep the children away, so they give them money before the kids even open their mouths. Some just want to sleep at night. Little do they know that when some kids were given money at a certain house, they will tell all the other kids they meet where the money is generously given. And there would be no stopping them from coming in hordes then. But some would joyously welcome the spirit of Christmas to their homes and give some coins with happy hearts.

The Land of True Love. The logo of Calumpit town is a deformed, twisted rainbow. It is a first-class municipality. (Written in Tagalog are the words "We are all continually nearing our goal of positive change.")
The Land of True Love. The logo of Calumpit town is a deformed, twisted rainbow. It is a first-class municipality. (Written in Tagalog are the words "We are all continually nearing our goal of positive change.") | Source
The people of Calumpit pride themselves to be traditional Filipinos, keeping the Christmas tradition after so many years. This park has some Christmas lights.
The people of Calumpit pride themselves to be traditional Filipinos, keeping the Christmas tradition after so many years. This park has some Christmas lights. | Source

Indeed, Christmas or not, day and night, Calumpit is the land of true love. The people go on loving each other. There is no decoration that can ever replace the love that Calumpit has for one another.

The Calumpit people. The old are such good role models to the youngsters. No wonder the children of Calumpit turned out to be beneficent and cheerful, showering the world with their true love.
The Calumpit people. The old are such good role models to the youngsters. No wonder the children of Calumpit turned out to be beneficent and cheerful, showering the world with their true love. | Source

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