For one night, Brooklyn’s Domino Park was transformed into a maze illuminated by hundreds of glowing lanterns meant to serve as the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Two interlocking spirals of electronic candles made up the first Winter Solstice Lantern Festival and Labyrinth of Light on Dec 21. Families were encouraged to bring their own candles and follow the incandescent pathway between the handmade lanterns leading to the display’s center point before following an identical route out to where freshly made hot chocolate was waiting for them.
In the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, children and adults alike marveled at the intricate network of lanterns. They also got a chance to gaze upon the “Christmas Star,” the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the sky, a once-every-few-centuries rarity.
Artistic director Debra Sheldon, founder of the Secret Lantern Society NYC, expressed the importance of coming together on the darkest day of the year during an especially dark 2020.
“I have been waiting to do this for a really long time but this year I thought it would be so important to bring love and the gift of bringing people together around something we all share,” Sheldon said. “We all share the darkest night, we all share this change of the season, so it is something to connect us.”
The coiled lanterns represent the mathematical Fibonacci Sequence, which Sheldon sees as the basis of all life. She also expressed the poetic beauty of entering the radiant web from the north and exiting at the south on a night when Saturn and Jupiter aligned to the southwest.
Through this symbolic walkthrough on what marked the shortest day of the year, Secret Lantern Society NYC hoped to heal the pain wrought from the global COVID-19 pandemic and a tumultuous election. The meditative ritual, Sheldon said, offered all attendees, regardless of faith or political opinion, the opportunity to converge in a fun, safe environment.
For Williamsburg resident Maryann Rekuc, the event was exactly what she needed to start fresh in 2021.
“I came to the solstice because I have gone through quite the year,” she said. “I have come to terms with 2020 and this seemed like the perfect way to cap it off. I walked through with my candle repeating my intentions for the new year. With the quarantine and relationships ending and everything that has happened, this year has really redefined what is important and coming out of the year I feel better than going into it.”
The Winter Solstice Lantern Festival lasted from 5 pm to 8 pm and was accompanied by gentle music throughout, provided by the Sound Bath.
This story first appeared on AMNY.com.