Luminaria Night

Trinity Park and many Durham neighborhoods celebrate the lighting of Luminaria – paper lanterns – each winter, typically on the evening of the Sunday closest to the winter solstice. It is always stunning and special event! In 2022, we celebrated Luminaria Night on December 18. In 2023, we will celebrate once again. Stay tuned for the date! (Likely to be Sunday, December 17, 2023, but that has not been confirmed.)

Luminaria Background

Throughout the northern hemisphere, around the darkest days of the winter solstice, a number of regions and cultures observe celebrations of light. Lighting of luminaria (or farolitos, or paper lanterns) seems to have originated in New Mexico as early as 1590 when small bonfires were lit by Gaspar Castano de Sosa’s men to guide a scout back to their camp. Pueblos picked up luminaria traditions during Spanish colonization where luminarias became popular on Christmas Eve, lit to symbolically guide the Holy Family on their journey to Bethlehem. With time, these traditions have blended with others all over the world where luminaria are lit to welcome and guide travelers, or to bring communities together in moments of joy, solidarity, celebration or loss. Trinity Park and many Durham neighborhoods enjoy this tradition to light up the long dark night, take strolls and spend time with neighbors and families.

Trinity Park Traditions

In Trinity Park, an interested neighbor coordinates the distribution of luminaria supplies – white paper bags, votive candles, and sand to hold the lights in place – as a way to raise funds for their favorite non-profit organization.  All neighbors are encouraged to participate by lighting up their spaces:

  • Order enough lanterns to place one every 10-15 feet along the street.
  • Consider placing some along the sidewalk to your front door.
  • Talk with your neighbors and coordinate with them to light up your block.
  • Light the candles in the early evening and stroll the streets to watch as they glow into the night. 

Lumaria 2022

Thanks to the the Emerson family for organizing the sale and distribution of supplies in 2022. They created a convenient online order form, selling kits for $1 per lantern, and they delivered the kits to neighbors’ doors the week before the celebration. Proceeds benefitted Girl Scout Troops 21 and 7000.

They raised $645 for each Girl Scout troop, distributing more than 1,500 luminaria kits to neighbors.  Despite being rainy the whole week prior, the weather was lovely on December 18 and it was a beautiful event!

From the Emersons: “To the Trinity Park Board and Neighborhood – THANK YOU for supporting us and the Girl Scouts!  As always, Trinity Park neighbors are the very best, trusting, willing and supportive bunch for our kids to learn big life lessons!

Read more about the 2022 event here.