While preparing for our Live Nativity (and more!) I searched through many boxes and totes to see what materials were available. At the bottom of a box of light strings, I found two packages of bags for luminaries.

Those paper bags reminded me of home.

There was a large neighborhood in my home town that decorated for Christmas by placing luminaries along their sidewalks, street curbs and driveways. No other lights were used and it created an amazing sight. Cars would line up, turn off their headlights, and drive slowly through the neighborhood. It was beautiful to see those simple lights reflected in the snow. The whole world seemed quieter. 

As I understand it, the tradition of luminaries began when Spaniards, in northern Mexico and the American southwest, liked the Chinese paper lanterns and wanted to do something similar. It became a Christmas tradition to line streets and walkways with luminaries, giving the Christ child a lighted path to family homes. 

Today, luminaries are used by different groups for different purposes. Some put luminaries out to decorate for Halloween. Others have used them as a candle vigil after a tragedy. 

Luminaries are simple decorations. A paper bag, a small amount of dirt or sand, and a tea light candle is all that you need. But, those humble and mundane elements create a path of light that is more beautiful than any electric bulb. 

That inexpensive light reminds me of a simple truth – light is better than dark. One’s life may be mundane and simple, but the light of an honest and faithful heart is more beautiful than anything man can build or manufacture.

Shine, Friend. The light of your life drives away the dark. 


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)


1 thought on “Luminaries

  1. Judy

    I immediately thought of the song I always sang with the “little people” in Sunday school or Bible school – This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let it Shine!



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