The Philippines has a long and rich tradition of making lighted lanterns, especially in the shape of a star. This tradition is deeply rooted in the Christian faith of many Filipinos.
The star shape of the lantern is made to commemorate the “Star of Bethlehem”, which Christians believe appeared in the skies to mark the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who was prophesied to become the redeemer of the world.
The star-shaped lighted lantern is therefore one of the most beloved and cherished symbols of the Christmas celebration in the Philippines.
Although star-shaped lanterns are made throughout the Philippines, nowhere in the country has the tradition of lantern-making been taken to greater heights than in the City of San Fernando in the province of Pampanga located in northern Philippines, where it is known as the Parul Sampernandu.
Making the lantern with the form and patterns that is now associated with the City of San Fernando officially began in 1908 with Francisco Estanislao of Barangay (Town) Santa Lucia as the acknowledged pioneer.
Battery-operated lanterns came in the 1940s and molding of steel wire frames was introduced in the 1950s. San Fernando lanterns became a commercial industry when San Fernando lanterns became available for sale to the public in the 1960s.
Through the years, lanterns of San Fernando continue to amaze people with its elaborate designs and intricate lighting from all over the world, including Austria, Spain, Taiwan, and the United States.
And with the full support of local leaders who value the preservation of culture, the tradition of lantern making lives on and is now being shared for the first time with the people of Xiamen and Fujian.
The Philippine giant lantern entered in the Xiamen Lantern Festival measures 6.1 meters in diameter. It is lighted by 1,200 bulbs and 2,250 meters of electrical wiring. It can be viewed at the Festival Grounds in Jimei from 2 to 14 February 2014.