The holiday seasons of the last quarter of the year are all rooted in strong belief systems. Christians rejoice in the birth of their King; the Jewish families observe Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights while the African-Americans observe Kwanzaa. For all these celebrations, lights hold a very important meaning.
For Christmas, lights symbolize Jesus, the Star of Bethlehem as well as the welcoming homes of Christian believers who desire to let the Little Lord Jesus know that He is free to enter their homes and lives. The glowing Christmas star on top of the “Tannenbaum” is the tiny depiction of the Star of Bethlehem which placed itself right above the place the much-awaited Saviour was given birth to. It’s the very same star that led the magi (or three wise men of the Orient) to the Saviour.
Christians furthermore light up the Advent Wreath; it uses 3 purple candles and a pink candle for Lutheran and Roman Catholic traditions. The 4 candles symbolize the four weeks of advent whereas their colours symbolize the penitential season for the purple candles and the happy period for the pink one. The colours and number of candles differ for Protestant churches though; others use blue, which is a color that means waiting, and white, to signify the Christ candle. Today however, majority of of British Protestant churches choose to have four red candles and one white candle.
Jewish customs in addition make use of the menorah. The relevance of the lights of the menorah has largely to do with how the “Maccabees” successfully rebelled against Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Based on the Talmud, a late text, the Temple was purified and the wicks of the menorah unbelievably burned for eight days, even if there was sufficient sacred oil for one day’s lighting. The lighting of candles for each night of the Festival of Lights is followed by the performing of special songs, the recitation of the Hallel prayer, eating of fried Jewish treats like potato pancakes that is called latkes and fried donut with filling labeled as sufganiyot, et cetera. The lighting of the candles is rooted in custom- the idea is that the lighting of the candles flows from the leftmost candle of the menorah to the right.
Regarding Kwanzaa, 7 candles are put on a candleholder labeled as a kinara. All these seven candles represent the seven principles of the African ways of life; Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).
All of these are great practices that are consistent with the transforming times. Candles are no longer limited to the wax and wick kind especially since safety has become a big concern. Electrical candles or LED candle lights are these days utilized in the observance of all these holiday practices since they are less dangerous and more practical to utilize.
Author: Nate WithersThis author has published 1 articles so far.