Season of Light explores the reasons humans are so fascinated with lighting up our lives during the December holiday season. It’s an exploration of the astronomical meanings behind seasonal traditions, including the “Star over Bethlehem”.
This presentation traces the history and development of many of the world’s most endearing holiday customs, all of which involve lighting up the winter season — from the burning Yule log, sparkling Christmas tree lights and candles in windows, to the lighting of luminarias in the American Southwest and the traditional ritual of the Hanukkah Menorah.
The show also recounts the historical religious and cultural rituals practiced during the time of winter solstice — not only Christian and Jewish, but also Celtic, Nordic, Roman, Irish, Mexican and Hopi. It also takes a look at some of our more light-hearted seasonal traditions: from gift-giving and kissing under the mistletoe, to songs about lords a-leaping and ladies dancing, and the custom of decking the halls with greenery and candles. St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, and Santa Claus all drop by as well.
Naturally, there is some astronomy in Season of Light. Audiences learn a selection of Northern hemisphere winter constellations, and find out why we even have seasons, as we demonstrate the Sun’s path across the sky throughout the year, and the Earth’s tilt and orbit around the Sun. And of course, the program explores the possible astronomical explanations for a “Star over Bethlehem” in the last quarter of the show: comets, meteors, novae and supernovae, and planetary conjunctions.
Season of Light is visually rich, culturally inclusive, musically satisfying, and soothing as a warm drink on a cold winter’s night.
New York State Science Learning Standards covered during the program for 2nd grade through high school students.