Festivals of Light
By Lana Lowe, Executive Director, Children’s International Learning Centre
Even though we are living in a time of uncertainty, the urge to celebrate endures. At this time, we can’t share a meal with extended family or enjoy a soiree with friends in large gatherings; however, we can share a united bond through recognizing similarities we experience with others when celebrating.
All over the world, people celebrate many different festivals with various traditions and customs. By following the lunar, lunisolar or the Gregorian calendar, the date of these celebrations is calculated.
All celebrations share similarities including the making of delicious food, house preparation by cleaning and decorating, wearing one’s best or new clothes, gatherings with friends and family and gift giving. These traditions are important factors in the way people celebrate regardless of culture or religion. When people from other countries come to Canada, depending on the food and plants available, people may need to adapt their traditions and use what’s accessible for their celebrations.
We think of the people who are struggling with homelessness and food security and recognize that many cultures make helping those in need a part of their festival tradition. People in all cultures are doing their best to find ways to celebrate, even during difficult times.
Through the ages, people have gathered together around fire and light in all its forms. Fire offers warmth, heat to cook with, and protection. Light in nature is used for all kinds of purposes. Moonlight and the stars help mark time and aid in navigation, while the sun is an essential part of life and growth. Humans seek out light as it provides comfort, the ability to see and the energy to grow food and plants. Light is celebrated as a symbol of hope because in times of darkness, people wish and pray for light and its reassurance. Therefore, it makes sense that many holidays and observances are celebrated with lights as part of their tradition.
People in our communities and neighbourhoods around the world celebrate with the sparkle and bang of fireworks, the comfort of a single candle’s flame, the crackle of flames from an open fire, a lit lantern or the twinkle of lights from decorated boughs of an evergreen or even a palm tree!
Light weaves a common thread to unite people from north to south, east to west in the celebration of many festivals including: Haudenosaunee Mid-winter Ceremony, Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, Ramadan/Eid-ul-fitr. Journey with our volunteers and friends from the Children’s International Learning Centre (CILC) as we learn of celebrations and observances by seeing a snapshot of cultural nuances through their eyes with the RBG at Home blog.
The Children’s International Learning Centre (CILC) is a non-profit organization that was established with the vision of contributing to a world of care and respect for all people and our environment. We endeavour to do this by promoting respect for diversity and awareness of our world community through guided discovery and interactive, artistic programmes, which will soon be delivered online.
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