Return of the Light

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Real tree, real candles!

Real tree, real candles!

There was a time in my life when I wanted to become a “Contemporary Jewellery Historian”. I chose the best program, at the Royal College of Art in London, England.  Everything looked very promising. However, despite my best aspirations, my then-husband put a wrench in those wheels.In the end, I am very happy that instead, I ended up becoming a working jeweller and goldsmith: I love my job!!! But, if I did end up in a brain-over-hand career, I might perhaps have liked to study people and what they do, in one way or another; maybe anthropology. One of the things I would like to find out about is the use and fascination around lights at this time of year.


This traditional setting has an entire orchestra of little wooden angle figures

This traditional setting has an entire orchestra of little wooden angle figures

The child in awe before the angle choir .... such magic.

The child in awe before the angle choir …. I love this 1994 photo of my mother’s delight in introducing my young daughter to this magic.

The memories of my childhood, as well as my experiences of introducing my own children to the German traditions, revolve all around lots, and lots, and lots of candles. Real candles. No electric lights here! The magic of these traditions will never be erased from my consciousness. Even the lighting of the first candle of advent, on the first Sunday of four. The next Sunday, you light two, and so forth. We would sit by those candles lit on the wreath laid in the centre of the table, singing Christmas songs together, and delighting in the sweets my mother will have baked for the previous six weeks. 

I’ve been here, in Nova Scotia, for so many years now, away from those traditions. The outside display lights was not something I’m used to from my childhood. I love it though! The traditions we have adopted our own home here in Halifax, based on the traditions of Shambhala  culture, revolve around the solstice: the return of the light. After this day (this Sunday), the days begin to get longer again.

One of my favourite celebrations here in Halifax is called the Candlelight Ceremony. On the evening of the solstice, the community gathers, particularly the children. As each child enters, he or she receives a candle, which she will carefully carry to the front of the room, guided by an adult. As more and more children enter, the room becomes brighter and brighter, signifying the return of the light. But not only the room becomes brighter, the glow in each child’s eyes does, as well. That is my favorite part.

solstice, candlelight, Halifax Shambhala Centre

The Halifax Shambhala Centre, all decked out …

Songs are sung, stories are told, and the magic is created around this longest night of the year, and the return of the night. 

Whatever your traditional may be, dear reader: I hope that you will have a wonderful, warm, peaceful holiday, with time to reflect on every light that is in your life.  And if this has been a dark year for you, know that light returns to darkness.

Wishing you Very Happy Holidays!

My sister shows my then-tiny daughter the nativity scene and tree

My sister shows my then-tiny daughter the nativity scene and tree

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