Why Light a Luminaria?

Light up your road, your driveway, your path for the holidays – Image (c) Paul Ciaccia, 2017 all rights reserved

Luminaria is one of the great holiday traditions in town. It’s simple enough to put a light inside a brown paper bag, set it in the sand, and place along your front border or in your driveway. But why?

Lights around the winter solstice date back… well forever. The tradition of lighting luminaries around Bedford has a long history in itself. Each Christmas Eve the streets near the Bedford Common and neighborhoods throughout the town show their spirit by lighting their luminaria. It really is a beautiful sight. This is one of the great traditions in Bedford.

Long time resident Daisy Girifalco actually attributes her move to Bedford, in part, to the luminarias. The family had spent Christmas with friends on Sweetwater Avenue and when they were driving through town seeing all the luminary bags, she said to her husband Mike, “We need to move here.”

At dusk on Christmas Eve, First Parish church was aglow with lights in the trees and luminaria lining the paths on Bedford Common. Image (c) JMcCT, 2012 all rights reserved

Paul Ciaccia explained how it all came about. The tradition started back in the early 1980s by the Bedford Minuteman Company, which was looking for a way to honor members who had passed. The Minutemen decided on a scholarship for Bedford High School seniors and started the Bedford Minuteman Company Memorial Scholarship Trust. In order to raise money for the trust, they embarked on selling the luminaria.

A few years ago, they reassessed the scholarship and thought the money might have a greater impact in other ways.

“We decided on an effort to bolster the curriculum with books and other materials that encompass American history, government, civil and human rights, and the ‘American experience,’” Ciaccia said.

This past year, the Bedford Minuteman Company presented a check to the Bedford Public Schools for $4,500 to be used at the Davis and Job Lane libraries.

Last year, they sold 500 kits, each consisting of 12 luminaria bags. The luminaria kits are available from Chip-in Farm. Suzanne Koller from Suzanne & Company also buys many of them and distributes them to her clients – past and present.

So join our community in spreading the light.  It’s a great cause and it is really a great tradition. There are still kits left, but hurry because once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Bedford Minuteman Chuck Hacala, Scholarship Fund chair Paul Ciacca, and Paul Couvee of Chip-in Farm


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