The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Columns

December 8, 2012

Religion column: We are in the season of light

During this season of short, dark days, candles and lights are important elements in winter celebrations around the world.  The earliest winter solstice ceremonies involved the use of fire because people in ancient times feared that the failing light would not return unless humans intervened with ceremony and celebration. As new religions were introduced to humanity, fire continued to be an important part of many of their celebrations because it symbolizes the Light of God.

Muslim Iranians still light fires to observe Yalda, the Persian Winter Solstice celebration that originated with the ancient religion of Mithraism.  The Mithraists believed that the winter solstice was the night that Mithra, Persian god of light and truth, was born to a virgin mother. After this longest night of the year, the daily increase in sunlight symbolized the triumph of the sun god over the powers of darkness.

The celebration of Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks, and the rededication of the temple at Jerusalem. Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights, which Jewish families observe by lighting a candle for each of the eight days that comprise the Hanukkah celebration.

Christians observe the advent of Christmas by lighting a candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. These candles symbolize hope, love, faith and joy. The white candle in the center of the circle is lit on Christmas Eve to symbolize the birth of the Christ Child. The wise men, astrologers from Persia, found the baby Jesus by following the light of a great star.

Of all the symbols attributed to the divine, light is the one found most frequently throughout the world’s holy writings. Anyone who is familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures knows that they are full of references to light and fire, starting at the beginning when God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Text Only
Big Chuck D'Imperio
Cary Brunswick

Chuck Pinkey
Guest Column

Lisa Miller

Mark Simonson

Rick Brockway

Sam Pollak
William Masters
  • Schreibman tops Chris Gibson on women's issues

    As the time to vote draws near, we need to remember how money can run politics more than we can. Raising funds is a prominent (if not the dominant) task of getting elected. Raising issues is also crucial, but those efforts are subject to distortion and fear-mongering.

    September 18, 2012

  • Republicans feelentitled to allthey can garner

    An entitlement is a legal benefit available from the government to individuals who are within a defined category of recipients, such as needing insurance for unemployment or health services.

    September 4, 2012

  • Romney focuses on self; Obama emphasizes unity

    Mitt Romney criticizes President Obama for saying a person's success is rooted in his community, and is not all his alone. Romney belittles this with his belief in individual initiative. He is better at the put-down than the push-up.

    August 21, 2012

  • Romney shows little regard for common man

    The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.

    August 7, 2012

  • Scouts' gay ban creates problem where none exists

    The Boy Scouts of America's "emphatic reaffirmation" of its vow to exclude any and all homosexuals from its hallowed ranks is ill-considered and pathetic, especially in view of its having reviewed the matter for two years.

    July 24, 2012

Additional Content
Join the Debate
Helium
Additional Resources
CNHI News Service
Poll

Is Israel justified to conduct its military campaign against the Hamas in Gaza?

Yes
No
Undecided/no opinion
     View Results