What Leesburg Luminaria means


Sixth-graders Mathews, Cockerill win essay contest

The Times-Gazette



Pictured are the sixth-graders who were selected as royalty at the 32 annual Leesburg Luminaria event earlier this month. They were the authors of essays on “What Luminaria Sunday Means To Me.” Written by Fairfield sixth-graders and anonymously judged by Fairfield senior English classes, the compositions reflect the Lions Club mission of spreading light by sending eye glasses throughout the world. Pictured (l-r) are king Joel Matthews, prince Brady Binegar, princess Paisley Stahlhut and queen Lyla Cockerill.

Pictured are the sixth-graders who were selected as royalty at the 32 annual Leesburg Luminaria event earlier this month. They were the authors of essays on “What Luminaria Sunday Means To Me.” Written by Fairfield sixth-graders and anonymously judged by Fairfield senior English classes, the compositions reflect the Lions Club mission of spreading light by sending eye glasses throughout the world. Pictured (l-r) are king Joel Matthews, prince Brady Binegar, princess Paisley Stahlhut and queen Lyla Cockerill.


Photo courtesy of Jay Newland

Editor’s note — Each year, an essay contest is held among Fairfield sixth-graders to determine who will serve as royalty at the Leesburg Lions Club’s annual Leesburg Luminaria event. The essays are judged by Fairfield seniors. This year’s winning entries for the king and queen appear below:

By king Joel Mathews

Do you know what the Leesburg Luminaria is? The Leesburg Luminaria is where the town’s businesses and house owners set out bagged candles out at dark to welcome the holiday season. The Leesburg Luminaria contest has been around for about 35 years, but the luminaria tradition has been around for at least 400 years. The first luminaria was recorded in the 1600s. There are a lot of facts and memories that could be told, but I am going to talk about three or four reasons why this tradition is so important.

Luminaria means guiding light, and for me it means more than just a guiding light. It means to have light in the darkness and to be strong while you are in the dark. A way this reflects on me is that on the Leesburg Luminaria night it’s very dark and cold, almost a bitter day, but when the business owners and homeowners light the lights it turns into a different atmosphere. It is heartwarming and fun and you never want to leave because you don’t want to lose the moment of hope, joy and kindness.

If you have ever been to the Leesburg Luminaria you know it has the most amazing sights, smells and tastes. The smells are so exhilarating that you never want to leave the smells. They take you to your happy place. The sights are the most beautiful sights you will ever see. The lights, the nativity scene and the community that shows giving and kindness is definitely the most amazing place on earth. And the tastes — the tastes are the most excellent on earth. The hot chocolate, cookies and other foods are as good as a homemade Christmas meal.

The Leesburg Luminaria tradition is like the sun shining bright through the rainy clouds. It shows kindness, generosity and love. The community is one of the best parts of the Luminaria. The word community means to stick together through the good and bad, to help each other through the storms and the challenges that may come. And the Leesburg Luminaria means and shows all of that. The Leesburg community is the heartwarming, loving, generous, kind-hearted community that every town strives for. So the Leesburg Luminaria means to show kindness and love and to help each other in life’s challenges and obstacles that will come.

I believe the Leesburg Luminaria shows the kind-hearted, generous community that we are and it shows that we will stand with each other in the hard times and the good times and that we will face whatever obstacles that will come into the community. Remember that Luminaria means guiding light, so be a guiding light in this holiday season to help your neighbors and your friends. And remember that in this community we’ll always have your back.

By queen Lyla Cockerill

You may have heard of candle lights and Christmas lights, but have you ever heard of the lights of luminary? The village of Leesburg hosts a luminary event each year on the second Saturday of December to bring people of the community together. For Leesburg and others who celebrate, the luminary is a tradition where you place little candles around your house, on sidewalks or along road sides. It can be celebrated by anyone and has been a holiday tradition for many years. The lights of the luminary have a special way of bringing people together.

The tradition of luminary comes from Mexico, around the 16th century. Luminaries were tiny stacks of sticks, shaped into squares, and set aflame. Over time, they transformed into small, white paper bags with sand at the bottom and a candle inside. Roman Catholic churches believed the lights would guide the spirit of Christ to people’s homes. In Spain, people believed the lights would guide Christians to church. Now, luminaries are thought of more in the way people think of Christmas lights — something pretty and decorative to look at. Leesburg will celebrate its 32nd luminary.

Each year, my family and I celebrate by putting luminary candles up at my house. When we finish putting them up, we go to town to see the others. We walk around and go into stores, meet with friends, go to the bank and get delicious hot chocolate, go the bakery for some sweet treats, and we even go visit Santa. After, we take time to admire all of the beautiful houses, streets and sidewalks covered in glowing luminary lights. At the end of the day we go home and sit by the warm fireplace, drinking hot cocoa with extra marshmallows, and we watch Christmas movies. It’s our own little tradition that takes place the night of the luminaria.

There is something magical about the lights of luminary event that brings people together. Some people say that the event is a reminder to honor the people who have passed away. Others say it is a reminder of the religious message of Christ and His love for people. Many more participate just for the beautiful decorations. For me, the luminary brings the joy and excitement of the holiday season to come. I think the magic is that it doesn’t really matter why you celebrate — the lights connect us together.

So, this year as you are making holiday plans, be sure not to miss this special event. It is an event rooted in history and celebrated locally for decades. It brings the entire community together, not just physically to see the lights, but also spiritually to enjoy them. There is no other event in the village of Leesburg more widely celebrated. So, grab your neighbor and witness the magic yourself.

Pictured are the sixth-graders who were selected as royalty at the 32 annual Leesburg Luminaria event earlier this month. They were the authors of essays on “What Luminaria Sunday Means To Me.” Written by Fairfield sixth-graders and anonymously judged by Fairfield senior English classes, the compositions reflect the Lions Club mission of spreading light by sending eye glasses throughout the world. Pictured (l-r) are king Joel Matthews, prince Brady Binegar, princess Paisley Stahlhut and queen Lyla Cockerill.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2021/12/web1_Luminaria-royalty.jpgPictured are the sixth-graders who were selected as royalty at the 32 annual Leesburg Luminaria event earlier this month. They were the authors of essays on “What Luminaria Sunday Means To Me.” Written by Fairfield sixth-graders and anonymously judged by Fairfield senior English classes, the compositions reflect the Lions Club mission of spreading light by sending eye glasses throughout the world. Pictured (l-r) are king Joel Matthews, prince Brady Binegar, princess Paisley Stahlhut and queen Lyla Cockerill. Photo courtesy of Jay Newland
Sixth-graders Mathews, Cockerill win essay contest

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