A Festival of Lights
By Kip Tabb –
We don’t think of light as a miracle any more, yet that memory of a time when we held back the darkness with a single candle is still with us. That candle, held aloft in the darkest of nights, meant more than light, for it symbolized a triumph over the unseen and unknown that surrounded us.
It is why we illuminate the sky at Christmas, decorate a Christmas tree with light and color. It is no accident that in this darkest of nights, at the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere where Christianity began, there is an abiding faith in the power and symbolism of light. It is a point of belief when all seems darkest, a reminder that faith holds out the promise of hope in everything we do.
Even at the dawn of Christianity illuminating the night spoke to the aspirations of the people of the time. The three wise men followed a wondrous light seeking a babe who would fill them with hope.
The symbolism of illuminating the night as a way to embody hope and belief predates Christianity by millennia—the psalms make constant reference to light and illuminating the darkness; pagan religions viewed light and fire as gifts from the gods.
It was a miracle that the Jews of Macabee defeated a numerically superior and better equipped army 2200 years ago. But the miracle they chose to remember was the light in the Temple in Jerusalem—the lamp with oil to burn for one day that burned steadily for eight days and nights until new oil, consecrated for holy use, could once again be found.
That the symbolism of the Christmas lights that decorate our lawns and buildings predates the birth of Christ by thousands of years does not lessen the importance of this symbol of the season. It, in fact, enhances it, for those beautiful twinkling lights that bring so much joy and wonder to the season are also the universal symbols of faith and hope for us all.
From all of us here at the North Beach Sun to all of our readers we wish you all the very merriest of Christmases and may your hopes for the Holidays come true.