Home For the Holidays Part 1: Light’s Ancient Holiday History

Posted on December 11, 2014 by John Bruce
Light is an integral part of our winter holiday celebrations.

Light is an integral part of our winter holiday celebrations.

Over the next few weeks, most of us will be traveling home to be with family. That home might be down the street, across the country, or even on the other side of the world, but no matter where you’re from, it’s good to be home for the holidays. With good company and walls that keep out winter’s chill, we’ll gather together and celebrate with food, gifts, decorations, and lights. You may wonder how light came to be such a part of our winter holidays. After all, festive lighting isn’t really a part of Valentine’s Day or Easter, and while fireworks play a big role in Independence Day, the holiday isn’t know for it’s festive lighting. But Christmas and Hanukkah are well known for lights, and this holiday season wouldn’t feel genuine without it.

The roots of holiday lighting are ancient.

The roots of holiday lighting are ancient.

The history of lighting in the Christmas celebration stretches back into ancient ages when the European Druids celebrated the Winter Solstice. These ancient people burned Yule logs during the solstice in order to help the summer sun return. By building and sustaining fires, they believed they could give the summer season the strength it needed to return, which was of course critical to their survival. When Christianity arrived in Europe, the monks who brought it assimilated this indigenous tradition, along with a few others, into the mass celebrating Christ’s birth. This way, the people would be more accepting of the new religion. Thus, burning the Yule log and lighting fires and candles became part of the Christmas celebration.

The use of lighting during the holidays connects us to our history.

The use of lighting during the holidays connects us to our history.

Light is also an integral part of the Jewish Hanukkah celebration. Actually, it is the reason for this holiday. During the 2nd century B.C., the Jewish nation lived under the rule of the Syrian-Greek regime rule by Antiochus and was not allowed to practice their religion freely. A small group of Jewish fighters, the Macccbees, lead a revolt in which they regained control of their Temple. When they relit the Menorah after cleansing the Temple, there was only enough oil to last one day, but they lit it anyway. The oil they had lasted eight full days until they were able to make more, and Hanukkah celebrates this miracle. In each Jewish household, the family gathers to say blessings and light one candle in their menorah during each day of Hanukkah. There are eight candles, which represent each day of the miracle.

No matter what holiday your family celebrates this season, festive lights will certainly be shining. Of course, today, we decorate with light produced by electricity more often than we do with real candles and Yule logs, but light still plays a key role in our festivities. As you gather together, remember how important light is to the history of the holiday and your current experience of it. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Kansas City wishes you and your family a warm, wonderful holiday season, and remember if you need any assistance with your outdoor lighting system or your outdoor holiday lighting this season, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

John-Bruce,-Owner

 

John Bruce, Owner
Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Kansas City
(913) 859-9150

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