Now in its 19th year, the Luminaria features neighbors lining their curbs with candle-illuminated bags, creating an unbroken string of lights stretching for a mile of curbside. The combination of the Luminaria and traditional house decorations creates a great holiday scene and draws spectators from around the area. The 675 candles, one ton of sand, and weeks of work coordinating logistics, collecting funding, and distributing supplies challenge the Committee during the holiday season.
"In an age where many people are very busy and other traditions often fall by the wayside, it's great to see the neighbors come together for this special event," said committee leader Jean Sokolowski. "The candles really make the holiday special."
Luminarias date back to 16th century Spain, when candles lit walkways to direct churchgoers to midnight Mass for the celebration of Las Posadas, a feast that celebrated Mary and Joseph's search for lodging before the baby Jesus was born. 300 years later, immigrants to the United States carried the tradition to the Southwest, from where it has spread across the United States.
The event begins shortly after sunset on Friday, December 24, 2010, and will continue until all candles have extinguished themselves, which usually occurs after midnight. The first candles can be seen at 2010 Butternut Drive, in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, and the string of candles continues along other streets in the neighborhood. In the case of snow, the Luminaria will be rescheduled until the evening of Saturday, December 25, or the next evening when clear weather is forecast.
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About the Shoemaker Village Luminaria Committee and the Shoemaker Village neighborhood:
The Shoemaker Village Luminaria Committee is responsible for organizing the annual Christmas Eve Luminaria, and has done so since the late 1980s, with a short break from 1997-2000. The Shoemaker Village neighborhood was constructed beginning in 1983, and is named after a farm owned by the Shoemaker family, on which the neighborhood was constructed.