Merry and Bright

Dear Reader,

The winter holidays are finally here. Hanukkah is in its midst and Christmas Eve in the U.S. is being observed at the time of this writing. With the winter solstice just days behind us, we are in the middle of the darkest time of the year. However, during the holidays, the night is a little brighter with Chistmas lights.

Did you ever notice the strong tendancy to celebrate Christmas with lights? String lights wrap around Christmas trees, candles hold vigil in windows, and outdoor decorations are aglow—these are just a few examples of how we celebrate the season with lights.

I started thinking about the importance of lights to Christmas because of my visit to the “Winter Flower Show and Light Garden” at Phipps Conservatory. Phipps Conservatory is a botanical garden located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Built in 1893, this large, glasshouse is home to many different plant ecosystems and species. To celebrate the holiday season, the building is decorated from floor to ceiling with Christmas lights. The “Winter Flower Show and Light Garden” is a very popular event. It is highly recommended that you buy tickets in advance.

There are many rooms in the Conservatory that house similarly “themed” plants. For example, guests can see large, colorful flowers in the tropical room and pointy succulents in the desert room. All of the rooms showcase light in some way. One room, features a large Christmas tree adorned with blue string lights. In the main entryway, lights hang from the ceilings in halo patterns. The lights at Phipps, however, are extra special for an interesting reason. Visitors are offered special glasses, which make all the lights look like snowflakes. To illustrate this point, I did my best to take a picture of the lights through the glasses with my phone (pictured directly above).

Although quirky, the glasses really did add to the overall experience. I was delighted to see the light snowflakes dance and rotate as I turned my head. I was even more surpised to look out of the glass dome to see that the street lights had transformed into large snowflakes. Phipps Conservatory was absolutely beautiful, but I really think it was the snowflake glasses that made the experience the most memorable.

Lights around Christmas time have become as classic as the tree itself. Buildings become gingerbread houses, residential neighborhoods become exihbitions, and city streets become festive paths. Lights, especially those at night, bring comfort and familiarity. To those of you observing the winter holidays, I wish you happy days. And to us all, Dear Reader, I wish that our winter nights are made just a little bit warmer and brighter with the lights this holiday season.



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