We must be one of the few countries in the world that can legitimately claim a different set of seasons from the rest of the planetâ€¦ We have three: Dry and Hot Summer Season, Wet and Humid Rainy Season and the Fabulous and Fantastic Christmas Seasonâ€¦each lasts about 3 to 4 months each!!! While malls start their Christmas music on September 1st, we never really used to get into the Christmas dÃ©cor until the first week of December and never hung our parol(s) until December 1st, at the earliest. There is nothing that heralds the onset of the Christmas holidays in our home like the hanging of our Parol or Christmas lantern. We have always preferred classic white paper parols but we have occasionally strayed from that pure and simple version (which we always made at home) and have purchased colored Pampanga-style lanterns as well as natural capiz shell lanternsâ€¦ I wrote about the classic parol/farol last year, and I continue to lament the disappearance of the paper versions from the streetside vendors, but such is progressâ€¦in fact, when was the last time you saw a paper lantern?! At our home, however bastardized and confused our holiday traditions might be, we ALWAYS have a parol along with our Christmas tree.
This year, we decided we were too crazed to do our own paper lanterns so we looked around at neutral or plain capiz parolsâ€¦ at PHP2,000 to PHP3,000 each, they were wickedly pricey. So we had some custom made for us at a roadside vendor in Mandaluyong along the Pasig River and for PHP3,000 total, we got two medium-sized and one large capiz lantern. Very classic shape and exactly what we wantedâ€¦ With low wattage bulbs, they will illuminate our garage and front lawn every evening until early Januaryâ€¦ I always knew capiz was a shell but that was the extent of my curiosity until I started writing this post. It turns out that capiz or kapis, is the outer shell of a bivalve/mollusk scientifically referred to as placuna placenta. It is a shell that thrives in Philippine and Indonesian waters and has been used for centuries as an opaque window material before glass was common. The shell’s opacity fostered privacy yet allowed light to filter into homesâ€¦ It seems, according to internet sources, that the name hails from the fact that they were commonly harvested near the town of Capiz, in Panay. The shells are water and heat resistant and thus great outdoors and as well as with candles or bulbs in them. They are sturdy and last several years. Oh, and a Marketman pet peeveâ€¦people who wrap their capiz lanterns in plastic to â€œpreserve them.â€ To me, thatâ€™s like folks who wrap their furniture or luggage in plastic so it doesnâ€™t get dirty or worse, like using saran wrap with your prophylacticsâ€¦simply overkill, if you know what I meanâ€¦ heehee. :)