Thursday, December 3, 2009

First Week of Christmas: Light

tin_lanternThis is a lantern fashioned from a tin can that once held store-bought green beans. It was simple to make; and yet, it is profoundly symbolic of the season.

Whether as individuals we are religious or not lights and symbols of light are part of our December and the end of the year holidays traditions.

In the Biblical account of Christmas the skies over the fields surrounding Bethlehem were illuminated when the angels told the shepherds about the baby born in a stable nearby; and an unusually brilliant star guided three wise men to also find their way to the same stable.

The use of light in Christian observances of Christmas are also said to refer to the verse about the birth of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:2, “The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light…,” and which Jesus is quoted as referring to himself in Matthew 4:16.

Since those modest beginnings the Christmas season has become a veritable season of lights as candles, light strings, and illuminated displays have become part of our collective memories whether or not individuals hold to the religious roots of Christmas.

One of my earliest memories is arriving at grandmother’s house after dark and seeing her bay windows in the living room outlined with strings of electric lights. In town on the courthouse lawn the boughs of the community tree were weighed down with strands bearing giant light bulbs of red, blue, green and white.

In my own home I like to have electric candles in the windows and a lighted tree. I also have lots of candles, both decorative tapers and scented tea lights, in every room. Candles convey such warmth and a sense of being home that brings an added dimension to this time of year. And the glow once they are lighted has a calming effect that helps counteract the stress and tension that can threaten to rob us of the joy and wonder of this time of year.

How do you use light at this time of year? Do your year end traditions and celebrations include lights and metaphors about light?

Series:

First Week of Christmas: Light

Christmas Week Two: Joy

Christmas Week Three: Wonder and Discovery

Christmas Week Four: Hope

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