November 3, 2011. Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila. San Fernando, Pampanga is not only known for good dishes and reenactment of the Crucifixion every Holy Week but also for the unique giant Christmas lanterns. The rains didn't stop the unveiling of the Christmas lanterns of San Fernando, Pampanga that lit up the facade despite the rainy night.
The lanterns of San Fernando are unique because of it's larger than the usual size, colorful patterns, the materials, and the light that comes from the lantern itself using electric bulbs. The lanterns are about eight feet high and they are quite a sight along Roxas boulevard especially to those who are traveling South bound.
What was the significance of these lanterns for Christmas. The lanterns signify the star that guides the magi or wise men from the east until they reached the young Messiah on the day of Epiphany. No, they were not kings and there were no biblical records that there were three of them except for the gifts(gold, frankincense and myrrh). The wise men are advisers for royalty because of their knowledge of astrology.
It also coincidentally coincides with pagan traditions because December 25 was also declaration of Sol Invictus(Invincible Sun), the official religion of Rome in A.D. 274 as tribute to the Sun god, Apollo. The sun design was also similar to the Christmas Star that was used in Christmas decorations. When Rome was Christianized, December 25 was declared the birth of Jesus Christ because it was closest date to the Roman winter solstice or one of their winter festivals which was only indicated in the canonical Gospels in the New Testament. Regardless of this, the Star of Bethlehem was an ideal title of Jesus, because his earthly father, Joseph, was decended from King David, whose emblem was a 6-pointed star that is also a part of the Israeli flag.
The lanterns at CCP will light up the facade till January 8, 2012.