We just returned from a beautiful holiday in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was literally glowing with all the lights that decorated the plaza, churches, and homes throughout the city. One of the many activities that happen during the season there is what they call the “Faralito” walk. We know them as luminarias but the literal translation is “little lantern”. Basically a path of “faralitos” (which you see everywhere) line the road up Canyon Drive where all the shop keepers, gallery owners, and various businesses have bonfires, hot cocoa or hot mulled wine and cookies. There are carolers everywhere and it is really quite magical.
It got me thinking about how important light is during the season of darkness. For thousands of years, people have held festivals of lights. Some help brighten the winter and yet others welcome the spring. In Brazil people dress in white and head to the beach to sing songs to Lemanja, African goddess of waters, to ask for good fortune in the coming year. In India, during Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights), people put out lanterns to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune.
One of my favorite celebrations is called the Loy Krathong which is a festival of floating lights in Thailand. Using paper banana leaves people make bowls in the shape of lotus blossoms and fill them with incense, flowers, and candles. They set the krathongs afloat on lakes, canals and rivers to give thanks to Me Khongkha, the mother of waters. It is a symbol seen as waving goodbye to misfortune, washing away sins of the past year, and making wishes for the coming year.
What all these celebrations have in common, and there are many, is the human experience. We may celebrate differently but our hopes and dreams are the same. My great hope for 2019 is that we can all share our own light and bring peace and joy to this world that we all inhabit.