(COVINGTON, La.) — In a time when pre-exam week stress looms in, many students seek inner peace through attending the annual St. Paul’s Luminarias celebration.
Luminarias is a tradition brought to SPS through inspiration from a festival in Santa Fe, N.M., 42 years ago. Originally, the SPS event took place the night before the school’s boarders returned home for the Christmas break, and it has since remained to be an enjoyable night of caroling and contemplation during the Advent season.
Coming from a family of parents that always told me to “follow my own path” in terms of faith, I have always celebrated holidays like Christmas with a more secular approach. Though I will not disclose my religious standpoint, I respect all faiths when I enter their houses of worship by either following the customs or listening reverently.
This year marked the first time I attended the actual Luminarias ceremony, although two years ago I had help set up, and I drove through campus to view the finished display. And as I had expected, the numerous glistening luminarias enhanced the hope of many weary souls, including my own.
This year, the wind caused some of the luminaria lanterns to extinguish prematurely, and the cold caused the caroling before the prayer service to be cut short. Despite these factors, the Student Council members and volunteers who organized the event still reflected positive spirits. This, indeed, is the epitome of the “true meaning of Christmas” adage.
As we advanced to the Our Lady of Peace Chapel after caroling, an aura of calmness and inspiration manifested in me. Usually, chapel services are a mandatory school day obligation for me. But because it was an optional experience, I felt less smothered and more open to listening to the reflections by veteran Student Council members.
After the service, the reception followed in the cafeteria, with musical accompaniment by the Jazz Band. I was only able to stay for three of their pieces, as dinner was waiting, but they did a spectacular job adding a jazzy flair to traditional Christmas tunes.
Attending Luminarias was a very rewarding experience, as I was able to learn more about the religious Christmas traditions and less about the idea that Christmas is merely a holiday which celebrates the approach of winter.