I don’t know when the first religion was created, but I think one of the first things that we humans worshipped was light. Darkness is not for us. Our eyes are not sensitive enough to see in the blackness of night. It stands to reason that when the sun appears we should want to celebrate its glory.
From Ancient Egyptians and Aztec sun gods, to modern day Druids worshiping Alban Hefin the sun king during the Summer Solstice sunrise over Stonehenge, our need for light is deep routed in our physche. We need it to grow our crops, to warm us and to make us feel happy. No wonder many images of deities show rings of dazzling light around the heads of those who are revered.
Many religions past and present have celebrated the joys of light. Festivals and special feast days such as Diwali, a Hindu tradition where families fill their homes and gardens with candles and lamps to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, to ignite wisdom in our hearts and bring hope to our darkest hours.
The Jewish festival Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the Hellenistic Syrians. In honour of the reclaiming of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem the festival begins with the lighting of the shamash candle in the menorah. Each night of the festival a new candle is added, lit by the middle candle, shamash until all nine candles are lit.
In Christianity, a bright star led the three Wise Men to the birth place of Jesus. At Christmas, the time to celebrate His birth, we decorate our houses with strings of cloloured lights not only as a symbol of that lone star, but to banish the dreary dark days of winter and bring us cheer.
Humans may believe in many different religions, but I believe we all celebrate in much the same way by using light to give praise for what we have and what we can become.
So, why not lift your head to the sky, rejoice in all the good things that you have, and let the sun kiss your skin. After all, today is supposed to be:
Look out for Part Three: The Light Within.