St Andrews community invited to walk path of light on longest night

Thursday 15 December 2022

For the third year in a row, the University of St Andrews is offering a free, family-friendly outdoor festive event on the Winter Solstice.

As part of the University’s ‘Can Do’ initiative, Kitty Macintyre, the University’s Honorary Pagan Chaplain, provided the first candlelit labyrinth for Winter Solstice in 2020. Speaking at the inaugural event, she said: “A labyrinth is an appropriate metaphor for the Covid-19 pandemic, where it is clear we all have a path to follow, but it isn’t at all obvious how far we have to go or when and where we might reach the exit.”

Commenting on this year’s event, Kitty said: “The Winter Solstice, on Wednesday 21 December, is the longest and therefore the darkest night of the year. Walking a path of light, thinking about whatever you like in silence provides a welcome pause from all the noise and activity of the festive season.

“A candlelit labyrinth on the Solstice brings light into the darkness and a reminder that the days now begin to get longer and the amount of daylight will increase again. This year there will be almost no moon, so the lit path will be all the more welcome.”

She explained: “The 2020 labyrinth event offered 300 staff, students – many of whom couldn’t go home due to travel restrictions – and townsfolk a free festive experience walking through 300 candle lanterns at a time when there were few other opportunities available. The original design was not a typical labyrinth, as there were personal distancing restrictions in place. Designing the plan with a metre-wide path with two-metre gaps between each loop of the path and making the whole thing one way to absolutely ensure full Covid-compliance was a challenge, successfully met.

“In 2021, a further loop was added to the design to give greater symmetry. There were 464 candle lanterns and the path was walked 415 times.”

Kitty added: “The event was blessed with good weather both years. For this year, to ensure that there will be a path of light regardless of weather, solar-powered fairy lights will also mark the paths. Candle lanterns will also still be present if the weather permits, but the event will be less vulnerable to wind and weather than previously.”

The event takes place in the Spanish Gardens on The Scores, St Andrews, from 4.30pm to 8pm. All are welcome to visit and experience a silent, candlelit walk under the sky.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category Community

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