By Cynthia D. Balana, Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine “parol” or Christmas lanterns are a big attraction at the annual Wiener Christkindlmarkt (Vienna Christmas Market), a popular and centuries-old Austrian holiday tradition that attracts millions of local residents and tourists.
A report from the Philippine Embassy in Austria said the event was highlighted on November 19 by the ceremonial lighting of 60 colorful Philippine parol on a specially-designated “Philippine tree” at the Wiener Rathausplatz (Vienna City Hall square).
Ambassador to Austria Linglingay Lacanlale and Vienna City Councilor Elisabeth Vitouch presided over the ceremonies witnessed by members of the diplomatic corps, Vienna City officials, members of the Filipino community in Austria, as well as Christkindlmarkt’s crowd of promenaders and shoppers.
In her remarks, Lacanlale traced the origins of this most celebrated symbol of Filipino Christmas and the special place it occupies in Filipino families’ homes during the holiday season.
The ceremony was followed by a reception that treated guests to traditional Filipino Christmas delicacies such as salabat (ginger tea) and kakanin (rice cakes).
The event was a joint project of the Philippine Embassy in Vienna and the Vienna City government, with the support of the city government of San Fernando, Pampanga, and the Filipino community in Vienna.
A separate parol display featuring 30 Pampanga lanterns was inaugurated in another historic Austrian city, Salzburg, on November 22.
The Philippine Embassy first introduced the Philippine parol in Vienna in 2006, when it opened a parol exhibit at a prominent Viennese Palmenhaus (tropical greenhouse) in an event that also commemorated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Philippine-Austrian diplomatic relations.