Celebration of Light
As we approach winter, the days grow shorter and colder. At this time of year,
few things offer more comfort than the warm glow of a candle. Whether in homes,
churches, temples, or mosques, we light candles to observe holidays, to
commemorate events, and to usher in an awareness of a holy presence. Across both
cultural and religious lines, light, in one form or another, is a universal
symbol of spiritual truth and wisdom. That light is what unites us all.
Though there are differences, each religion celebrates light in some fashion.
Scripture found in the Christian Bible, the Torah, and in the Muslims' Quran,
along with Hindu, Pagan and many more teachings refer to light. Light dispels
darkness and is associated with creation. It is a metaphor for illumination
along the spiritual path. Light is used as a symbol for life and warmth. A
candle flame is also a symbol of the light of spirit that dwells within each one
Through the years light has been used in remembrance and as a way to honor.
There is an eternal flame burning at President John F. Kennedy's grave and a
solitary flame burns inside the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a
memorial to numerous people.
Most of all perhaps, light is a symbol of hope. It is a reminder to us that good
can and does come out of some of the worst situations. Light is an important
element in many holidays and festivals throughout the world. It is the symbol of
the divine and the bringing of light and joy into the world.
Some Celebrations of Light:
Devali – Late October - early November - Ancient Hindu festival of lights that
celebrates goodness over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
Advent: Four Sundays before Christmas, beginning Sunday. A common practice in
the home and church is to have an Advent wreath. Around the circumference are
four candles, one for each of the four Sundays of the Advent season and one
white candle in the middle. Christians light one candle each Sunday in
preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Winter Solstice – December 21, the day of the year with the shortest hours of
sunlight. This celebration has been held around the world and especially in
areas of the earth where the winter is very dark and long, and the yearning for
light so great.
Kwanzaa: December 26-January 1. From the Swahili word meaning "first fruits,"
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 as an African-American cultural celebration of seven
principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility,
cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Seven candles in red,
green and black are lit to signify African-Americans' desire for equality and
hope for a better future.
Hanukkah: December 26 – January 2. In 165 B.C.E., a small group of Jews called
the Maccabees recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrian king. As tradition says,
after cleaning the temple, they could find only enough oil to light the menorah
for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted eight days. In honor, one candle is
lit in the menorah each day of the eight-day holiday to commemorate the miracle.
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