NOVA of California, dedicated to spreading beautiful, warm light for almost a century, believes in the healing power of light to uplift. This year, in particular, we join in celebrating ‘Celebrations of Light’ across the globe.

This is the season of celebrations of light–Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Aomori Nebuta Matsuri–and we embrace this moment in all of its brilliant and beautiful forms. These holidays fill us with a sense of wonderment, warmth, joy, and hope. Sharing beautiful light is what we do professionally and it is our passion.

Many cultures and communities celebrate the magical nature of light based on their unique beliefs and perspectives. The light festivities below inspired us with the special qualities of light in brilliant white and vibrant colors. 

How will you celebrate the joy of light in the new year? This year in particular, we all need to share a bit more light.

Christmas | Christian Communities

(Photo credit: Denisse Leon via Unsplash)

People celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. The name Christmas comes from the Mass of Christ (or Jesus). People began decorating Christmas trees with lights when they adorned them with candles, symbolizing Christ as the light of the world.. Around the globe, communities are lighting up their Christmas trees with candles, LED lights, and reflective ornaments and wishing each other Merry Christmas.

Loi Krathong Thai Communities

Celebrated on the full moon of the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar, this festival draws its name from a phrase meaning “to float ritual vessels or lamps.” Krathong, or floating decorated baskets, are made and set to float down rivers to thank and honor the Thai goddess of water. Typically, the festival lasts three days throughout the country and is popularly celebrated in Chiang Mai, where thousands send off floating lights on the water.

Hanukkah Jewish Communities

Lighting of the Menorah at Liberty Station, Sand Diego | Image Source: Locale Magazine

This Jewish celebration covers eight days and nights, beginning on Kislev’s 25th day of the Hebrew calendar. Typically, it falls sometime from late November to late December. During the celebrations, candles are lit on a menorah to commemorate the miracle of the temple light that burned for 8 days when there was but 1 day’s worth of oil. 

Diwali Indian Communities

Also called Deepavali, this holiday is celebrated most notably by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists. Diwali usually begins between mid-October and mid-November, falling during the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartika. It usually covers five days of festivities and marks the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. 

People prepare for this holiday with a spirit of deep cleaning, renovating, and decorating their homes and workplaces, along with themselves. Homes and workplaces are decorated with rangolis, colorful patterns made of sand, and enhanced by diyas, small oil lamps carefully placed throughout the design. People dress up in beautiful new clothes during the celebrations, eat tasty family feasts, and round out the night with a dazzling fireworks display.

Lantern Festival  • Chinese Communities

Photo by Robert Metz on Unsplash

Celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first lunisolar month every year, the Lantern Festival–or Spring Lantern Festival–is a celebration of the Chinese New Year. It is traditionally celebrated with thousands of paper lanterns flying, each lifted by the light of a single flame. 

Traditionally, these lanterns were relatively simple and only used by noblemen and the emperor, but today they take many shapes and intricate designs, including animal figures. They symbolize good fortune and represent a person letting go of the past to embrace a new self in the new year.

Aomori Nebuta Matsuri •  Japanese Communities

Photo by Kodai Monma on Unsplash

From August 2nd to August 7th of every year, colorful parades roam around Aomori’s beautiful city featuring depictions of historical and mythological figures.

This celebration is one of the largest in its region, attracting throngs who come from all over to witness the beautifully illuminated floats. “Nebuta” refers to the celebration’s central float of a warrior who is carried to the middle of the city amid dancers who chant the traditional Rassera. 

Fête des Lumières  French Communities

December 5th to December 8th marks a well-loved holiday for the French people. Thousands upon thousands gather in Lyons, France, to give thanks to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In an age-old tradition that is still honored today, families place candles on all of their windows throughout the town, casting the city in a magical glow. Two main attractions during the festival include the lights on the Basilica of Fourviere and the yearly light show at the Place des Terreaux.

Saint Martin’s Day • Dutch Communities

Source: Pinterest

Celebrated on November 11th every year, Saint Martin’s Day, or Martinmas, is a feast celebrating the patron saint of beggars, drunkards, winegrowers, and the poor consisting of a fun blend of Christmas and Halloween. 

Primary school children go door-to-door toting glowing, handmade lanterns and singing songs in exchange for candies or fruit. 

Las Fallas • Spanish Communities

Covering the first nineteen days of March, the Fallas celebrations provide attendants with a fun mix of tradition, comedy, and art that make up this must-see event. The festival originated in an old carpenter’s tradition of burning wood figurines during the long winter months. 

Over the years, more and more items made it into the bonfire, creating the celebration still held today. Fireworks, gunpowder, and illuminated sculptures are a significant part of this celebration. 

Guelaguetza •  Mexican Communities

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This energetic, light-filled festival occurs yearly in Oaxaca, Mexico to celebrate all indigenous cultures of the region. Guelaguetza[ɡelaˈɣetsa], or Los lunes del Cerro event features traditional dance and costume as well as indigenous walking bands, an artisanal craft. The annual ritual holds “deep cultural importance for the indigenous peoples of the state and is important for the survival of these cultures.”

Festival of Lights  German Communities

Germany Festival of Lights 2020

As one of the most famous European light festivals, this celebration is not one to miss. Taking place over varying dates in October every year, the city puts on a light show for the ages. Tourists and locals alike flock to all of the significant and famous landmarks around the city that are transformed with colorful lights from 7:00 PM to midnight for nine days. 

The Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag Building, and Berlin Cathedral are some of the most popular destinations. 

Pingxi Lantern Festival Taiwanese Communities

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Held on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar,  this Taiwanese light festival is traditionally a way for people to spread traditional folklore and send their wishes up to the skies as they pray for abundant crops and new sons to work their land. The wishes fly up to the gods who send dreams back to the people, telling them that they are blessed with good luck. 

Typically, the lanterns flown relate to the astrological sign of the lantern flyer. Other lantern patterns, especially those for children, can include depictions of historical figures, birds, or elements representing the year’s theme. The main lanterns for the festival are well over ten meters, or thirty-two feet, tall and are a sight to behold. 

Lewes Bonfire British Communities 

Source: Wikicommons

The Lewes Bonfire, or Bonfire Night, is a series of celebrations held in Lewes, Sussex, England, the world’s bonfire capital. The festival is usually held on November 4th or 5th. 

It marks Guy Fawkes Night and commemorates the seventeen protestant martyrs from the town who were burned for their faith. During the day’s events, societies from the town hold torch-lit processions throughout the city. An additional twenty-five to thirty societies come to Sussex and Lewes to march in the streets. 

Saint Lucia Day  • Swedish Communities

Source: Pinterest

Saint Lucia Day, or Saint Lucy’s Day, is a Christian feast celebrated in Sweden on the 13th of December. It honors Lucia of Syracuse, a fourth-century virgin martyr who aided Christians hiding in Roman catacombs by bringing them food and aid while wearing a candle-lit wreath atop her head to guide her path. 

Her feast is celebrated as a festival of light primarily because of that wreath. Her celebrations mark the beginning of Christmastide in Sweden, and she is heralded as a guide pointing to the Light of Christ and helping them survive the darkest days of winter with her light. During the festivities, songs are sung while young girls dressed as the saints carry cookies and saffron buns in the procession.

World Communities Share in the Light

Each of these festivals of light celebrates illumination in its way. From fireworks in Spain to candles in Thailand, to lanterns across Asia, and bonfires in Europe, each country and community brings unique perspectives on the celebrations of light and their own cultures in a way that draws outsiders in to participate with them in honoring traditions old and new.

At the beginning of this guide, we asked how you would be celebrating light in 2021. NOVA of California has been committed to sharing beautiful, warm light for nearly 100 years.

Sunset Standing Table Lamp, Matte Black & Weathered Brass by NOVA

As stewards of this iconic California lighting brand, we felt a particular responsibility to share our warm light this year with our loyal following of retail store owners, interior designers, architects, and hotel owners.

In the face of the challenges brought about by the global pandemic, NOVA began to offer our unique light directly to consumers for the first time in our history. We are believers in the power of light to uplift, inspire, and heal.

We strive to contribute to a brighter tomorrow and wish everyone a new year full of light and joy in 2021.

Best wishes from your friends,

NOVA of California