It’s easy to take light for granted. We flip the switch (or ask Alexa to turn the lights on for us), and there it is. Easy peasy.
So, as we zoom towards Christmas faster than Rudolph after he’s eaten some dodgy reindeer food, we thought this would be the perfect time to talk about how important light is. Not just because it brightens up our world and lets us see things more clearly, but because light is at the centre of so many significant and well-loved celebrations. In fact, light is currently bringing illumination and joy to festivals all around the world.
Take Diwali, for instance.
Diwali is one of the most important festivals in Indian culture. Although the date for Diwali changes slightly every year, this year’s Diwali was held only a few days ago. It’s a five-day celebration known as the Festival of Lights; in fact, ‘Diwali’ is a shortened version of the word ‘Deepavali’, which means ‘series of lights’. Over the five days of the festival, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains worldwide decorate their homes and businesses with oil lamps, candles, and many other forms of light.
What’s the significance of light during Diwali?
Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
According to the Diwali story, Sita, the wife of the Hindu God Lord Rama, was kidnapped by the demon king. When Lord Rama rescued her, and they returned to their kingdom, the villagers lit thousands of oil lamps so Lord Rama and Sita could find their way back home on the moonless night. This is why light is key to the festival. It’s also why Diwali is a time of massive firework displays, to symbolise Lord Rama’s coming back to his people.
Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. It’s a time for feasting and dancing and visiting with family and friends. It’s also an opportunity to pause for a while, take stock of the past and look forward to the future.
But it’s not just Diwali that celebrates light!
Every year, between late October to March, winter Illuminations festivals are held in cities across Japan. One of the oldest of these events is the Kobe Luminarie, a memorial to the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. It’s a spectacular display that uses thousands of LED lights and attracts more than three million visitors annually.
In Valencia, Spain, the festival of Las Fallas takes place from the 15th to 19th March. The festival borrows its name from the Latin word for ‘torch’ and is held during Mascleta, which is nineteen days worth of firecracker displays and fireworks spectaculars.
France has its own Festival of Lights. It takes place in Lyon, starting on December 8 every year, and usually lasts for four days. During this time, every householder places candles outside their windows to show their gratitude towards Mary, the mother of Jesus.
One of the most important celebrations in Taiwan is the Pingxi District Lantern Festival, during which thousands of lanterns are decorated with good wishes and released into the sky. There’s also a firecracker ceremony and a famously risky fireworks display called the ‘beehive of fireworks’, symbolically held to ward off evil and disease.
Another global celebration of light is the Chinese lantern festival which marks the end of the Chinese New Year. Next year, this will take place on Tuesday, February 15. On this day, people send lanterns up into the sky or float them on the water. Some more technologically savvy citizens even dress up drones with brightly coloured lights and fly them over the towns and cities.
Let’s not forget Hanukkah!
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that lasts for eight nights and days and usually falls within November or December. It is also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean revolt against the Syrian-Greek army. The most well-known Hanukkah tradition is the lighting of a commemorative Menorah, a multi-branched candelabra with nine candlesticks (one for each night of Hanukkah plus an extra candlestick to light the others.) Ever since 1998, the world’s largest Hanukkiah – which is a whopping 32-feet high! –forms the centrepiece of the Festival of Lights held in New York’s Central Park.
Hanukkah is a time for present-giving, game-playing, and sharing delicious food with family and friends. Chocolate coins are also traditionally handed out during the holiday.
And then, of course, there’s Christmas!
Christmas needs no introduction, and Christmas lights have been slowly appearing in our malls, streets, and shop windows since the middle of October! If there’s ever a time when it’s impossible to ignore the magic that LED lighting brings into our lives, it’s right now. Let’s take Norwich, where we’re based, for example. There are already LED Christmas trees and garlands of LED Christmas lights all over the city centre. Over the next few days, the famous Norwich BID Tunnel of Light is going to make its very welcome return too.
This will be the seventh year that the Tunnel of Light sparkles up the city centre, and – at 45-metres long – it’s one of the largest Tunnels of Light in Europe. Believe it or not, it takes more than 5.6 miles of cable and 57,000 LED bulbs to make the tunnel dazzle so spectacularly.
And, on the subject of dazzling, if you want to dazzle and amaze your friends with more fabulous LED facts and figures, that’s what we’ll be talking about in our next blog! In the meantime, we’re currently getting all our fantastic Christmas stock ready in time for Fakenham’s Christmas lights switch-on on the 27th of November, so make sure you visit us early and don’t miss out! We’re going to have a lot of mega-tempting Christmas gifts in store, including some brilliant Christmas-themed home furnishings! Stay tuned to find out more!
Please remember, for all your lighting needs at any time of year, our friendly, expert team are always here to help. Just pop into our showroom at 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, NR21 9DY, give us a call on 01328 855028 or drop us an email at [email protected].