Saturday November 15, 2014

Community Lantern Walk


Arts Council of Princeton, jaZams, Princeton Walking Tours and Waldorf School of Princeton will host a Community Lantern Walk reminiscent of celebrations of light around the globe. This event is free and open to all ages. The walk will commence on the green in Palmer Square and wind around downtown Princeton, with song, warm cider and stories of selflessness and strength.

Lanterns are available for purchase at jaZams, or participants may bring their own; instructions for simple home-made lanterns may be found online (see instructions here and here). A portion of the proceeds from the sale of lanterns will be donated to HomeFront.

RSVP here.

The Hindu community has Diwali; Jews celebrate Hannukah. During Loi Krathong, families in Thailand set candles afloat in the rivers, and in China and Vietnam, lanterns feature prominently in at least two major holidays. “Festivals of light” in the fall and winter seasons may be found in a multitude of cultures, and have been preserved for many hundreds if not thousands of years all over the world. Each festival has its own rich history, but all honor a simple human hope: light in the face of darkness. St. Lucia’s Day, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are further examples where candle flames accompany gathering together, thanksgiving, and prayers or wishes for the year to come.

In Germany and elsewhere in Europe, young children celebrate Laternelaufen, or St. Martin’s Day (Martinmas), a tradition preserved in Waldorf schools everywhere with an annual lantern walk. Tied to the legend of St. Martin, a French soldier who gave half his coat to warm a beggar in need, the event includes walking through the streets or woods, lanterns aloft, singing songs about sharing, the season, or the lanterns themselves. The gesture of carrying light and warmth into the darkness in the company of others is reassuring, and affirms symbolically that light can continue to shine even as the sun wanes.

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