Winter nights are drawing longer, and darkness is a thematic metaphor of the time of year. So many different cultures, from so many different places, celebrate festivals of light in darkness. We explore just why that might be.
As Jews who grew up in America, we gravitate to the contrast between Chanukah and Christmas. A rather humorous round of reflection ensues. Growing up Jewish in America during Christmas season is a truly absurdist experience! However, in contrasting the two holidays, we uncover a fundamental difference in how the respective cultures see light and darkness.
Light in Darkness
Hannukah is all about the personal, with its little lights you must create, and a celebration of everyone’s lives making the world just that much brighter. Christmas, in contrast, is about light in general, the dawning of light in a world waiting for it – but it lacks the personal touch.
This isn’t just a happy quirk. “I found the light” is a phrase one hears from born again Christians, after all. There is a profound difference in how one lives life lurking in the winter holiday metaphors, here. Do you seek to find light, that exists outside of you? Or do you seek to become the light, yourself? These are two modes of thought, and two ways to live. Which one you choose will define your experience of light in darkness – and your aspirations for your future, and yourself.
The Lonely Journey
We all, in some way, trek through life in search of light in darkness. There are no guarantees you make it, but giving up the search is never an option. For those who live trying to be the light in the world, what you ultimately have is hope.
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