In 2001, leaders of the New Jersey Humanist Network created HumanLight, a secular holiday traditionally marked on December 23rd. It’s an opportunity to rejoice around the positive human values of reason, compassion, and hope. It’s not an attempt to co-opt or secularize an existing religious holiday. Instead, it’s a separate holiday that inspires humanists, nontheists, the nonreligious, freethinkers, and atheists to create their own meaningful traditions around the ideals that we share. While some local groups are returning to in-person celebrations, the American Humanist Association (AHA) and our co-sponsors are continuing a new tradition (see video of HumanLight 2020) of bringing the festivities online for a virtual HumanLight celebration to be held on Saturday, December 18, 4-6:30pm ET.
“In my 20 years of helping promote awareness of HumanLight, it’s been wonderful to see how countless others have dedicated so much volunteer time to creating a festive celebration each year for their family and/or community,” said Patrick Colucci, longtime member of New Jersey Humanist Network. “And I’m always especially happy when new people ‘discover’ it every year.” Colucci and his group will share the history of HumanLight during the 2021 event to recognize the anniversary.
Rogiérs—artist, activist, and director of Black Nonbelievers DC—will be the Master of Ceremonies and provide a lovely jazz-style rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine, which has become popular during HumanLight gatherings. Digital artist Emily Wilson produced a stunning video to accompany the song and will also share creative decorations from HumanLight enthusiasts, like herself, featuring the HumanLight color scheme of red, blue, and yellow/gold. Young authors Bailey and Elle Harris (creators of Stardust Science and Elle the Humanist) will lead the traditional HumanLight candle lighting ceremony—reflecting on reason, compassion, and hope—and Freethought Society Co-Founder Margaret Downey will read Dally Messenger’s On the Meaning of HumanLight. A special addition to this year’s festivities is a close-up magic performance by Dr. Victoria (Tori) Noquez. Based in Bloomington, IN (where she works as a professor of mathematics), Tori has been featured multiple times in The Close Up Gallery at The World Famous Magic Castle and has been a magician member of The Academy of Magical Arts for over a decade. After the program, which will be recorded and shared publicly, Zoom Breakout Rooms will be available for socializing and discussion on fine art, community service, humanist philosophy, environmentalism, and other topics folks are excited to explore together.
Along with fun and community, charitable giving is a common feature of many HumanLight celebrations, as we reflect on how we can help all to have an enjoyable end to one year and beginning of another. Some groups gather donations for a local food bank or homeless shelter, or participate in a local community service project. This year, organizers invited co-sponsors and individuals to donate to support our performers and direct the remaining funds to Foundation Beyond Belief projects that exemplify humanist values.
The 2021 HumanLight sponsors include:
American Ethical Union
American Humanist Association
Baltimore Coalition of Reason
Foundation Beyond Belief
Freedom From Religion Foundation
New Jersey Humanist Network
Secular Coalition for America
Washington Area Secular Humanists
Additional sponsors are welcome to donate at https://bit.ly/human-light-2021 or by texting HUMANLIGHT to 44321.
Please join us and spread the word about the 2021 virtual HumanLight celebration on Saturday, December 18, 4-6:30pm ET. The event is free and open to all.