Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Natalie. Natalie Wonders, “Why does the Menorah have nine holders for candles?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Natalie!

Have you ever thought about how important light is? Take the light of the sun, for example. It gives our bodies warmth and helps plants grow. When the sun sets, though, not all is lost. Darkness can be beautiful—especially when lit by a sky full of stars.

The lights that brighten the nighttime can seem almost magical. In fact, light is a powerful symbol in popular holidays all over the world. But why is that? Does light have the same meaning for everyone? The exact details may differ, but light often represents the idea that goodness will overcome evil.

In Christianity, a bright star is a key symbol in the story of Christmas. For many, it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without a tree trimmed in twinkling lights. They also enjoy seeing light displays that decorate windows and entire houses.

Another example is the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Some call it the “Festival of Lights.” It commemorates the miracle when a single day’s supply of oil lasted for eight days. How do people celebrate Hanukkah? Most do so by lighting the menorah, which holds nine candles. This includes eight Hanukkah candles and a Shamash candle used to light the others.

Light also has a special place in Kwanzaa. Each evening during this holiday, a family member lights candles in a holder called the kinara. A discussion of the seven principles of Kwanzaa follows. These are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Those of the Hindu faith celebrate Diwali in October or November each year. It’s marked by family gatherings, glittering clay lamps, and festive fireworks. The holiday also often welcomes strings of electric lights and bonfires.

Tet is the Vietnamese New Year. People celebrate by making offerings for friendship and family. They also light joss sticks on the family altar several times a day.

Many other holidays use light as a symbol. Can you think of any? What is it about light that makes these events so special? Perhaps it is the simple beauty of candles. Or maybe it’s their similarity to stars. Millions of people have drawn inspiration from the night sky. Perhaps candles and other forms of light inspire us in the same way.

How does light inspire you? Have you ever been moved with emotion by a sunrise? Or what about a brilliant orange sunset? Have you ever been mesmerized by the glow of lights from the skyline of a big city at night? Think about it. What is it about these lights that lights you up inside?

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day takes a closer look at machines that sometimes act like people!