Luminarias and lights welcome the holiday season
Hundreds of people celebrated the arrival of the holidays on Thursday night as Elon University hosted its annual Festival of Holiday Lights in the heart of a campus aglow with luminarias honoring alumni and student donors.
A seasonal tradition returned to campus Thursday night as the Elon University community celebrated the end of the fall semester and the arrival of holidays that symbolize warmth, light and love.
Sponsored by the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, the Festival of Holiday Lights featured 1,500 luminarias casting a soft glow as the campus community enjoyed hot chocolate and cider, traditional Christmas carols, and students from Hillel who lit candles on a Menorah as a symbol of the Jewish holiday that begins later in the month.
Music by the Elon Saxophone Quartet, the Gospel Choir, the Sweet Signatures a capella group, the Elon Brass Quintet, and the Smooth Progressions a capella group filled the evening as well.
Natually, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus made an appearance at the end of the festival, where they were swarmed by the young and the young-at-heart alike.
Elon University Chaplain Jan Fuller said that gatherings such as the Festival of Holiday Lights don’t ignore the painful realities of world events in recent months, from war abroad to gun violence at home, from racial injustice to political divisions. Instead, the festival on Thursday and others like it throughout the school year “remind us of the origins of our hope.”
“All over the world, people are celebrating holidays and Holy Days that offer the gift of light to the world, along with all that light means—warmth, joy, deliverance, hope, and salvation,” Fuller told the crowd. “Jewish Hanukkah marks the miracle of something small being enough. Bodhi Day commemorates the Buddha’s enlightenment. Christian celebrations of Christmas give thanks for the birth of the Savior Jesus, a surprising deliverer, a light of hope in darkness. And there are many other holidays in December that bring us light.”
The Festival of Holiday Lights gives strength to act in ways that are in keeping with core values, Fuller said before the program. Everyone needs to play, to sing, and to seek joy in the midst of sorrow so he or she can better work to create a more just and peaceful world.
In addition, the event allowed to the university to honor the generosity of 2,814 alumni and senior donors who have made gifts to Elon since June by placing their names on the luminaries that lit the pathways between Moseley and Alamance buildings. Of that number, 242 were from the Class of 2016.
“The Festival of Holiday Lights is an opportunity for Elon to recognize the thousands of alumni donors throughout the world that believe in their alma mater," said Jordan Bacharach '09, the university's coordinator of alumni giving. "We would like to extend a special thank you to all of our alumni and Class of 2016 luminaries that continue to light the way and make an impact on the Elon experience for current and future students.”