Interfaith Center’s 23rd annual ‘Festival of Lights’ illuminates the outside of Sargent Hall


Leo Woods

A display set up outside of Sargent for Festival of Lights celebration

Suffolk University’s Interfaith Center held its 23rd annual Festival of Lights, a celebration of the holiday season, on Dec. 6.

Students, staff and Boston tourists gathered at the entrance of Sargent Hall for the ceremony during activities period. Suffolk’s Chaplain, the Rev. Amy Fisher, gave a brief greeting following a performance of “Dream On” by Rampage Show Choir.

This was the first year that Suffolk has held the Festival of Lights publicly, welcoming members of the Boston community to share in the celebration alongside Suffolk.

“The biggest thing is to try to include as many people as we can,” Fisher said.

Asma Akbar, Suffolk’s Interfaith Scholar, began the program by reciting a translated verse from the Quran, Surah An-Nur (24:35). Assistant Chaplain Xavier Sayeed then read aloud the verse in Arabic.

Fr. Rich Andre and Fr. Ed Nowak, the director and associate director of the Paulist Center on Beacon Hill, recited a reading of Mattew 24:36-44 to honor the beginning of Advent. Advent is the start of the Christian calendar year and encompasses the four Sundays before Christmas, according to the Interfaith Center. 

During Advent, a candle is lit each Sunday. Students from the Questioning Catholics and Christian Bible Study groups lit the first two candles on the Advent wreath.

Suffolk Hillel President Dina Ross told the story of Hanukkah, “an eight-day minor Jewish holiday that commemorates the victory of Judah Maccabee and his followers over Syrian King Antiochus IV and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem,” according to the program for the Festival of Lights. This year, Hanukkah will begin at sundown on Dec. 18 and will end at sundown on Dec. 26.

People from Suffolk Mystics and Witches lit the Yule log for the winter solstice, which occurs annually on Dec. 21. In pagan traditions, the Yule log is lit to welcome back light into the world, according to the Interfaith Center.

The Atheists, Humanists, Agnostics & Anti-Theists spoke about using winter break as a time to enjoy the cultural and secular elements of the major holidays while spending time with friends and family.

The Interfaith Center provided electronic candles for attendees to place on a table next to symbols of the holiday they celebrate and encouraged guests to take a moment of reflection.

The ceremony concluded with a blessing from Fisher.

“At this time of year as many religions celebrate the joy and harmony of light over darkness, may we as the Suffolk University community strive toward peace over strife, love over hate and hope over despair,” Fisher said.

Akbar encouraged students to learn about holidays other than the ones they celebrate this holiday season.

“It is so important that we recognize all of these different traditions, cultures, and religions, ” Akbar said.