Followers of Jesus Christ celebrate His birth with unique displays of light worldwide. Stars, candles, and twinkle lights on homes and trees remind us of the true meaning of the season when we commemorate the sacred night when the Savior was born.
“The account of the first Christmas in the Book of Mormon helps us to learn and more fully understand that Jesus Christ is the ‘light which shineth in darkness’ (D&C 10:58),” Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “In every season of our lives, in all of the circumstances we may encounter, and in each challenge we may face, Jesus Christ is the light that dispels fear, provides assurance and direction, and engenders enduring peace and joy.”
Even in locations where December means summertime or where temperatures are too mild for snow, lights are a significant part of Christmas celebrations.
I grew up in Southern California, where warm and sunny Christmas weather is the norm. Every year, I looked forward to the warm glow of colorful Christmas lights shining into my bedroom from the roof at night when I fell asleep. Those lights felt like peace to me, reminding me of the warmth of the Savior’s love through my dad’s efforts to put them up.
Read on to learn how Christmas lights help friends of LDS Living in Canada, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and Vermont feel closer to Jesus.
“Canada is very dark this time of year,” Megan Gordon of Winnipeg says. “When I was young, I would walk home from school, and it would be dark. A lot of people struggle in the winter with the darkness. I always really looked forward to Christmas lights. Places where the lights shine the brightest help your heart feel lighter.”
She continued, “My daughter has seasonal affective disorder and feels really down in the winter months, but going through December with the lights really lifts her spirits. When we celebrate the Savior, there are lights everywhere that lift my spirits and lift the hearts of my family members who struggle with the darkness.”
Vittoria, Sicily, Italy
To illustrate his thoughts on Christmas lights, Massimo Meduri of Vittoria shared a parable that has come to his mind during the holiday season:
“There was an exuberant young man with strong beliefs and purpose who shone with light and who was always happy and full of the joy of living. One night, he had a dream where he met God. In that moment when God spoke to him, he first beat himself up for the ways he could have been better.
“But God didn’t want him to feel bad. God’s message was to tell the young man that the reason he made him so full of light and joy was so that he could be a light to everyone and everything around him.”
For Massimo, this thought moved him as he realized that we can each be this kind of light and joy of Christ to people we know and meet. “With our light, our Father in Heaven hopes that we will shine so that everyone we meet can be filled with the light of His love.”
Massimo also shared that the holidays, and Christmas in particular, amplify the feelings we already have. If we’re feeling content and happy and in a positive family situation, Christmas amplifies these feelings. If instead, for whatever reason, we feel sad and our hearts are heavy, Christmas can magnify this pain and suffering.
When we’re aware of this challenge, we can use our light to reach out to and uplift those who might feel suffering instead of joy during this time of year.
Translated from Italian by Paige Sommer.
Mexico City, Mexico
Isabel Vivas of Mexico City finds joy in celebrating Las Posadas (Spanish for “The Inns”) during Christmastime.
“We use candles in Mexico for our walk outside on the streets during the Posadas,” she says. “We sing, ask people for shelter where baby Jesus can be born. The candlelight helps us through the darkness while we walk and sing, asking for baby Jesus’s shelter.”
Holding a candle reminds Isabel of Christ’s light, and asking if there is room for Him is a reminder to make space for Him in our hearts.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
“Christmas is a time that touches the heart, as it reminds us of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world,” Rejane Callado of Rio de Janeiro says. “At this time, friends and families come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Stores see an opportunity to boost sales, so they put great care into the decorations they use to delight and draw in the public. But when we look at so much beauty and magic, it reminds us of the Savior’s love.
“At night, the lights are on, showing all their charm; however, it is necessary to remember the Savior Jesus Christ and not just the possibilities of getting or giving gifts.”
Translated from Portuguese by Laura Sommer.
“When I was a kid, during Christmas, the streets would be decorated with Christmas lights, and even despite all the busyness, I would feel excited,” Atsuko Miyata of Nagasaki says. “When I was 21, I converted to Christianity, and then I really understood why we celebrated Christmas. I felt joy in knowing that Jesus Christ loves us.
“Even today in Japan, fathers will rush home early from work and mothers will prepare a delicious meal so that the family will spend a fun Christmas evening together.
“Even if you are experiencing difficult, painful, or unpleasant things, you can spend this wonderful time together. And this is from Jesus Christ. I think this is His gift to us. He pours His love out to each person. As you see the glittering illumination of the Christmas lights, we hope you can see and notice it.”
Translated from Japanese by Jazmin Kitchen.
Middletown Springs, Vermont, United States
Aaron Anderson of Middletown Springs wrote: “When my wife and I, with our family, moved across the country a few years ago and settled in Vermont, we were excited to become part of our new local culture. We didn’t know what to expect beyond idyllic countryside vistas and a quieter way of living.
“During this Christmas season, I am reminded of one of my favorite ‘new’ cultural traditions that has come to mean so much to me both in significance and symbolism. The tradition we have come to love is seeing candles show up in windows of houses. Not just one window, but every window of the house.
“As we drive by at night and see these houses, they clearly sit in stark contrast with other houses more traditionally decorated with snowmen and reindeer.
“We did not know what these candles meant, only that we loved the quiet reverence we felt as we drive by and see so many candles illuminating the windows of these simple farm houses.
“My wife asked a friend of hers what the candles represent, and she explained, ‘Years ago, before cars and electricity, families would put a candle in the windows of their homes to light the way for weary travelers who might need aid or a warm place to stay to wait out a storm.’ We absolutely love the symbolism that represents the light and refuge from the storm.
“During this time of year, when leaves have fallen and the earth seems to sleep in her winter respite, the light of the candles for me seem to call out, ‘Come here for rest, peace, and warmth. Here you will find safety from the storm.’ How fitting the reality of Christ calling to us always and in every place, ‘Come unto me.’
The lights of Christmas, in all their varieties, connect us to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter where we live. They remind us to turn to His Light, the true Light of the World.
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