Kaleva, Michigan 

Winter Solstice

Kaleva Luminary Tradition
The soft glow of dancing light is cast over the peaceful Kaleva Cemetery every year on the Winter Solstice.   Since 1998, the community celebrates the Finnish tradition of lighting candles for those who have passed by placing luminaries next to each grave in the Maple Grove Twp in the village of Kaleva on Dec 21 (the shortest day of the year).  This event is reminiscent of the Finnish tradition of lighting candles on Christmas Eve for fallen friends or family.

Community members begin arriving at 4pm to create over 1,000 luminaries by filling paper bags with sand and a candle.  Towing sleds filled with luminaries, people walk through the snow to distribute and light the candles.  Hands are warmed at a small warming station near one of the cemetery entrances.   Following the lighting, people gather by the fire for a prayer and Christmas carols.  Bethany Lutheran Church also offers soup and bread to nourish the workers at 5:30 pm at the church.  As darkness falls, lines of cars begin driving down Kaleva Street and through the cemetery lanes to enjoy the beautiful, peaceful site.

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