For me, the start of December is a time when the world starts to feel a little scarier, a little jarring, a little more unknown. And, not coincidentally, the night comes earlier and lasts longer. The darkness sets in.
I think this is why so many of the world’s northern hemisphere religions celebrate holidays filled with lights at this time of year. There is something oppressive about the darkness falling at 4pm and we need reprieve from it. We light up our homes and common spaces in a form of protest against the dark. We remind ourselves of the warmth of community, the light of our love for one another, and the power of the collective as we enter the stark months of winter. We take a moment to acknowledge our smallness in the face of the darkness, but also to remind ourselves of our power to overcome those fears and persevere.
We remind ourselves of the warmth of community, the light of our love for one another, and the power of the collective as we enter the stark months of winter.
There is remarkable solidarity across cultures, ethnicities, and geographies behind these celebrations of light. At least, there is solidarity that this annual moment deserves recognition and our psyches need a bit of a pep talk before we head into the darkness of winter. This is related to a very real psychological phenomenon, seasonal affective disorder, that, I think, stems from our ancient DNA seeking ways to persevere in the dark.
And, it’s no accident that so many of the most inspiring change makers in history have latched onto the importance of the struggle between light and darkness. We are obsessed with the interplay between light and darkness – it is a wellspring of metaphors for the change we seek.
As the final darkness of 2021 is falling, we hope that you take this moment to remember, look for, and be the light. Together we will light up the night and build a brighter future in 2022.