Gauss-Advent Calendar: Worldwide Candle Lighting and St. Lucy’s Day
by Hussain Nauman
For centuries, lighting a candle has been a way to show love and respect for those that have passed away before their time.
We will explore two such festivals that do exactly that. The Worldwide Candle Lighting and St. Lucy’s day. Coincidentally, both of them will be celebrated on 13th of December this year.
Worldwide Candle Lighting Day is a celebration of solidarity and memory. It is celebrated every year on the second Sunday of December.
The loss of a child is perhaps the greatest loss there is, and this day brings together everyone who has experienced the heartbreak of such loss. It is a day of understanding, support, and friendship. While it may be a sad day, it is also a day of hope, helping people to realize that there is still life after losing a child too soon.
This day had humble beginnings, starting as a very small observance, but now there are hundreds and hundreds of formal lighting events that take place, as well as thousands of informal ones.
Worldwide Candle Lighting Day was a gift to the bereavement community from The Compassionate Friend. This first started in the United States in 1997 as a small internet observance in honor of children who lived tragically short lives for any number of reasons, but will never be forgotten.
Many organizations join in to observe this holiday, some of which are local bereavement groups, churches, funeral homes, hospitals, hospices, children’s gardens, schools, cemeteries, and community centers.
As mentioned before, this day is celebrated with a quiet elegance: at 7 p.m. local time, people light candles for one hour to remember their loved ones. You could also invite some close family members to spend this time with you and light their own candles for the late child. This doesn’t only have to be a sad occasion, however.
Of course, nothing will ever make up for the loss of a child, but there is some solace to be taken in the fact that the child’s life was a good one, however short. No matter whether you’ll be lighting a candle at home or joining a gathering Worldwide Candle Lighting Day it is a way to show love and community and support for each other.
St. Lucia’s Day, festival of lights, is celebrated on December 13th in honor of St. Lucia (St. Lucy). It first became widely celebrated in Sweden in the late 1700s and is now also celebrated in Denmark, Norway, Swedish-speaking areas of Finland, Bosnia, and Croatia.
St. Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means ‘light’ so this is a very appropriate name.
December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old ‘Julian’ Calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia’s Day.
Schools normally have their own St. Lucia’s and some towns and villages also choose a girl to play St. Lucia in a procession where carols are sung. A national Lucia is also chosen. Small children sometimes like dressing up as Lucia (with the help of their parents!). Also boys might dress up as ‘Stjärngossar’ (star boys) and girls might be ‘tärnor’ (like Lucia but without the candles).