Thanks to the light of the sun, our bodies receive warmth and our eyes can see the path before us. The sun’s light also helps plants grow, providing us with food to eat. When the sun sets, though, not all is lost. A WONDERful world of artificial lights springs to life.
The lights that brighten the nighttime can seem almost magical. From soft candlelight to the bright glow of neon, lights of all sorts can both light our path and light us from the inside by warming our hearts with various emotions.
In fact, light is a powerful symbol in popular holidays all over the world. But why is that? Does light have the same meaning for everyone? The exact details may differ, but in many celebrations light represents a sense that goodness will overcome evil.
In Christianity, a bright star is a key symbol in the story of Christmas. And for many people, it just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without a tree trimmed in twinkling lights and seeing light displays that decorate windows and entire houses.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is known as the “Festival of Lights” and commemorates the miracle when a single day’s supply of oil lasted for eight days. A typical celebration of Hanukkah involves lighting a menorah, which holds nine candles: eight Hanukkah candles and a “Shamash” candle that is used to light the others.
Each evening during Kwanzaa, a family member lights candles in a special candle holder and there is a discussion of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
India’s most important holiday of the year, Diwali, is held in October or November each year and marked by family gatherings, glittering clay lamps, festive fireworks, strings of electric lights, and bonfires.
Tet is the Vietnamese new year, and people celebrate by making offerings for friendship and family and lighting joss sticks on the family alter several times a day.
Can you think of any other holidays that involve light as a symbol? For example, could you imagine Independence Day in the United States without a spectacular fireworks display lighting up the night sky?
What is it about light that makes these holidays and other events, such as birthdays, special? Perhaps it is the simple beauty of candles or tiny lights in the darkness, like the stars that light the night sky. Millions and millions of people have drawn inspiration from the night sky. Perhaps candles and other forms of light inspire our souls in the same way.
How does light inspire you? Have you ever been moved with emotion when you woke up early and saw a spectacular sunrise? Or what about a brilliant orange sunset? Have you ever been mesmerized by the glow of lights from the skyline of a big city at night? Think about it. What is it about these lights that lights you up inside?