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Light: Winter Celebrations

To consider the significance of light as a religious symbol.

by Gill O'Neill

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To consider the significance of light as a religious symbol.

Preparation and materials

  • This assembly is designed to be used at the end of October/beginning of November.
  • It would be helpful to have available a number of different 'lights' (e.g. candle, lantern, torch, flash gun from a camera, indoor sparklers, table lamp, fairy lights, electrical appliance with a warning or on/off light, etc.)
  • You will need a box of matches and access to an electrical socket.
  • OHP displaying a large empty sun shape, big enough to write examples in, and pen.
  • A large candle for the reflection, and three or four other candles.
  • Note: The Time for reflection involves lighted candles. We suggest that you take precautions, such as planning the route for any movement with candles and keeping it clear, having a fire extinguisher to hand and, perhaps most importantly, picking the participants carefully!

Assembly

  1. Begin the assembly with your resources in a box, bag or other container, so that they cannot be seen. Turn off the lights in the hall and draw curtains/blinds if necessary, so that the children arrive in the hall in the relative gloom of late autumn.

  2. Ask the children how we know that it is autumn, and that winter is on its way? After taking several answers from the children, suggest that we feel that winter is almost here particularly when the clocks have gone back and the evenings get darker.

  3. Go on to ask the children what would have been the only source of light during the day in the early days of human civilization. Then ask them what different sources of light we have nowadays. Ask a child, or colleague, to record the children's responses on the OHP, inside the sun shape.

    As the children's suggestions match the objects that you've brought in, take them out of the container, and ask volunteers from the front row to hold them up (if appropriate). Light the candle when it's mentioned, and plug the lamp in. The hall will begin to lighten up.

  4. Ask why light is so important to us. Ask for examples of things that we are able to do in the evenings with the aid of artificial light. Again have the children's responses recorded on the OHP, around the outside of the sun shape.

  5. Explain that during the winter there are many festivals and celebrations that involve light, as a form of decoration, or as a symbol of something spiritual (e.g. goodness). The children may be able to suggest festivals of light that are celebrated in the coming months, e.g. Diwali, Hanukah, Christmas. If they suggest Guy Fawkes' Night, explain that this is a celebration, but not a religious festival.

Time for reflection

Light the large candle and ask the children to focus on the flame.

As you focus on the flame:
Think about the autumn and the dark nights, which give us time to spend indoors, with our families.
Think about all the activities that we can do in the evenings because we have artificial light.
Think about the enjoyment of celebrations, especially those involving lights, candles and fireworks.
Think about the fun of firework parties.
Think about how one small light can shine through darkness.
How can we be lights to brighten up other people's darkness?

Pause for a moment, then ask for three or four volunteers to help you show how light can be shared and spread throughout the darkness. Give each child a candle and ask the first child to light their candle from the big candle. The next should light theirs from the first child's candle, and so on until all the candles are lit. (This could also be used as an opportunity to give a message about fire - and firework - safety.)

Song/music

'Flickering candles' (Come and Praise, 114)

Publication date: October 2003   (Vol.5 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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