2022 Holiday Reflection

By Lauren Kirchberg

The holiday season brings many cross-cultural traditions including decorations, gift giving, food, gatherings with family or friends, sending cards, the list could go on and on. But one interesting consistency is the lighting of candles. Whether it is the Advent Wreath, the Menorah, the Kinara, or any other symbolic item, people across the world are lighting candles.

As beautiful as holiday lights can be, candles bring a different type of light. Candles burn with light. The flame from a candle can also be used to light other candles, igniting them to burn as well. The candles of these different symbolic items have various meanings:

  • The candles of the Advent Wreath represent hope, joy, peace and faith.
  • The candles of the Menorah represent eternal light, creation and a dedication to faith.
  • The candles of the Kinara represent Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).

Did you see a pattern? Faith. Across cultures and religions, faith is at the heart of the holiday season. The English dictionary defines faith as complete trust or confidence in someone or something and although faith has many different depictions across cultures and religions, this core message remains the same. 

The past few years have made the idea of faith difficult and this year is no different. A looming recession, the fear of a new pandemic, random spikes of COVID-19, and all the baggage associated with those things and more reduce our energy, our inner light, drawing us to faith, maybe simply out of necessity. 

As we nestle into this holiday season and look into the new year, let us reflect on how we can reignite our own faith, light the inner candle, in small and big ways, with the trust in something better to come. What does that look like for you? Is it spending a moment each day to meditate or pray? Is it learning and reflecting on the history and stories of your own traditions inviting you to remain rooted? Is it being vulnerable and trusting enough to ask for help? Is it creating space in your life for real conversation about faith? However you choose to celebrate this holiday season do it with trust and confidence that your faith will impact others.