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Winter Solstice Is Coming, It’s Candle Night!

December 13, 2010

Voluntary blackout has become a common activity observed worldwide, mainly in the context of global warming/energy issue, as in the case of the Earth Hour. In Japan, voluntary blackout has become something of a new tradition known as “Candle Night”, which is held on the summer and winter solstices: people are encouraged to turn off lights for 2 hours between 8 and 10PM and spend time in natural lighting of candles.

This Japanese version of voluntary blackout was inspired by the 2001 Canadian voluntary blackout held in protest against the U.S. Bush Administration’s energy policy (which promoted nuclear energy), and the its first event was organized by the Sloth Club in the same year at Café Slow. With this small start, however, the movement grew, by the year 2003, into a national scale “Million People’s Candle Night” (or more simply “Candle Night”), receiving support from a wide range of individuals and organizations, including Japanese Ministry of the Environment. Now, candle night events are being organized all over Japan.

Interestingly, the Candle Night is not strictly about global warming/energy issue as expressed in a song “Candle Night” by Anja Light (also a co-founder of the Sloth Club). People are encouraged to take a step back from their daily lives to ponder about the way we live, to remember what brings true fulfillment to our lives, etc.

Addressing many of the issues of our time requires broadly rethinking about the way our societies are organized, and, to take steps in a right direction, the soft glow of candlelight may be more illuminating than the bright (sometimes even blinding) electric light.

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