“You can look across and see all the dots of where the luminaries are lighting the cemetery.”

I was in a cemetery on December 21st, 2023, for the winter solstice. I went to Kaleva, Michigan. They have a big Finnish population in Kaleva, and there is a Finnish tradition that you go to the cemetery on Christmas Eve and light luminaries and put them on the graves of your ancestors. Well, Kaleva decided that people were kinda busy on Christmas Eve usually, so they decided to change the tradition or make their own tradition to be the winter solstice, so the longest night of the year. So they have volunteers that come and light luminaries and place them on the graves all throughout the cemetery there. And it is a very large cemetery, and I think that they said that they light over a thousand luminaries now. And it was beautiful. So, it’s obviously dark when you go. They start lighting them I think around four o’clock. And then by the time they’re finished, it’s dark and then you can either drive through the cemetery or get out and walk and see all of the, um, the graves kind of lit up by these luminaries, and you can look across and see all the dots of where the luminaries are lighting the, lighting the cemetery. So it was a pretty cool thing. I heard about it a long time ago, and I am not often, um, up north then, or in Michigan. I — when I lived outside of Michigan, and if I, you know, when I came home for the Christmas holidays, I would usually get there, like, the 23rd, sometimes the 24th and very soon before Christmas. I normally didn’t have that much time off work to be able to go sooner than, you know, a couple of days before the holiday, but this year I decided to take a little bit of time off before the holiday and was able to go up to Traverse, and then my mom and my sister and I who actually had flown in that day, like she flew — er no, she had flew in the day before — late the day before. And we were able to meet a friend of mine who I worked with when I lived in Muskegon. She lives in Manistee, but her husband’s family is all from Kaleva, so they actually have ancestors in that graveyard. And we were able to find her an- — her in-laws’, um, um, graves and saw the luminaries that were put on them and, you know, she was telling us about it, and it was — so that was a really kind of cool experience.

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