Christmas Eve in Summerville, South Carolina.

It is one of the sweetest family memories.


The entire neighborhood was lined with luminaries; small white votive candles, anchored with sand, inserted into white paper bags.

On a night that was usually about 60 degrees, folks lit their candles after dark, and put holiday music on speakers aimed toward the steady line of traffic that slowly paraded through the community.

the set up

If someone was to be away for the holidays, neighbors set up their candles to achieve an unbroken line in front of the hundreds of homes.

We all served snacks, drinks, shared the splendor and the camaraderie.

It was a tradition since the 1980’s and well known throughout the area. Folks travelled for miles to witness.

The steady stream of slow moving traffic had another benefit. It kept us all at home for a few hours.

It is said that the candles could be seen from the air, and might have served as a runway for Santa.


Courtesy. Beaver Creek Record

Note: Best experienced in person, the majesty and serenity was difficult to capture on film, especially at night. I found the photo above from a community in Ohio that best represents it for me.


This entry was posted in Celebration, Entertainment, Family, home and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Luminaria

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    What a lovely tradition 🙂

  2. Jim says:

    nice post. wonderful pics. 🙂

  3. AmyRose🌹 says:

    How gorgeous! Were they not concerned about the paper bags catching on fire from the candles, Van? I must admit lights are magical … and the photograph you shared is mesmerizing!! Thank you! ❤

  4. The V-Pub says:

    Simple and elegant – just as Christmas should be!

  5. What a beautiful tradition. I especially like the idea of guiding Santa’s sleigh in. How magical!

  6. Nurse Kelly says:

    How incredibly beautiful is this?! My sister lives in Bluffton, SC, which is a little south of there. If they were still doing this, I would tell her to go check it out! So beautiful – thanks for sharing such a heartwarming memory. xo

  7. As far as I know, they still do it there, Kelly. The communities of Ashborough and Ashborough East. We were there in the 90’s. 💂 🎅 👼 It was a lovely tradition that made up for the lack of snow. No white Christmas…barely a white winter. ☺

  8. Judy Martin says:

    That looks lovely Van. What a lovely tradition, it must have looked magical. 🙂

  9. I’ve seen individual homes do this on walkways and drives, and it’s always looked so magical. I can imagine that a neighborhood lit up like this would be stunning. Makes we want to run out and get the supplies 🙂

  10. What a great photo! Those candles are definitely a nice touch!

  11. What a cool tradition! ❤
    Diana xo

  12. megdekorne says:

    You are such a beautiful luminary to me Van ! Your bright light has been an endearing blessing for me …Merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones my sweet friend ….love , megxxx

  13. writerinsoul says:

    I love stuff like this. It immediately gets to me.

  14. I would love to see this. What a spectacular event.
    Merry Christmas, Van

  15. Wow Van that is amazing! what a memory!

  16. Van, I hope you had a spectacular Christmas. ;o)

  17. joey says:

    That’s a really lovely thing to have been a part of. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen luminaries around here…

  18. Outlier Babe says:

    Any time a community celebrates Christmas as a community, it is special, but those luminarias would make it look magical. How wonderful your children got to experience that, Van.

  19. roweeee says:

    I wonder how something like that would go in Australia? There’s a real anti-authority streak here so you’d have the conformists and the non-conformists. I could see someone having to put colour in there somewhere just to be different!
    It does look very beautiful and I’d imagine in a cool climate also atmospheric. In so many parts of Australia, you couldn’t do that with real candles due to the severe bushfire risk. In many places, it’s more of a case of when, not if, with the bush fires too.
    xx Rowena

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