I lived in Arizona for about thirty years, and the Southwestern version of luminaries involves paper bags, sand and votive candles. For many years we lined our driveway with the luminaries to light the way. In my home, the way was lit for Santa, but we were missing the point.
When I moved to Winston-Salem, many streets, including my brothers’, were lined with the same type of paper bag luminaries. It is called “Light the Night,” and the way is lit for the shepherds to find the Christ child. On target, for sure.
Now, I am in the “North Country” for Christmas this year, and it is a whole ‘nother style of luminaries. These are made out of ice. They are pretty labor intensive. My sister is making them, and this is how it’s done…
Plastic containers, i.e. pitchers and cut down milk jugs are filled partially with water. A tin can is pushed down in the middle, and weighted with whatever. My sister uses flatware, so a bunch of knives, forks, and spoons are sticking up. Visualize it. The containers are parked outside.
Now for my southern and southwestern peeps, this is difficult to grasp, but it is FREEZING outside all the time. FYI, two days ago, the mercury never rose above 1 degree F. That’s right. Most of the day, the temps hovered around negative 5. Today is a whole new day, and it is actually going to be around the actual freezing mark, then to drop. So, yeah. Things stay frozen outside.
Back to the Scandinavian-style luminaries: after the block-of-ice-with-a-can-in-it is solid, hot water is poured into the can, the heat melts so the can can be removed, and the block-of-ice is slipped out of the plastic. In theory (I haven’t actually seen the final results), there is now a crystal clear ice cube with a hole in the middle for the votive candle.
These will be placed along the path to light the way for us to the Baby Jesus. It should be beautifully dazzling. I’ll let you know.