How We Celebrate HumanLight

— info, examples, suggestions, ideas:

What happens at a HumanLight celebration?

Humanists tend to shy away from rigid thinking and rituals. Therefore, the specific events and activities involved in any HumanLight celebration will vary from place to place and are open to the invention and creativity of those who are celebrating. However, not everyone likes to start from scratch, and the easiest approach to developing a holiday celebration event is to borrow ideas from what others have done.

There are many ideas and suggestions below for how to celebrate HumanLight.  And of course we encourage you to be creative in developing new fun and meaningful traditions that are in keeping with the meaning of the holiday!

Also, keep in mind that although it’s wonderful to gather with a larger community, HumanLight can also be celebrated at home, with a small gathering of family and friends. (And in December 2020, due to the Covid pandemic, the first ever national, virtual HumanLight celebration was held on Zoom, sponsored by several local and national groups).

No matter how you choose to celebrate HumanLight, we request, and strongly encourage, that you follow three basic guiding principles, which can be applied to any kind of celebration activity:

1.  Your event/activity should, in some way or to some extent, celebrate and express the positive values of Humanism.  How this is done, and to what degree, will vary from a little to a lot, depending on the interests of those involved.
2.  Your event/activity should Not be about negative criticism of religious people or holidays such as Christmas.  This is fundamental to the meaning and purpose of HumanLight.  And it is also more welcoming to the larger community — so that our religious friends and family might be comfortable attending. HumanLight is not intended to be anti-Christmas, or to “secularize” Christmas.
3.  If possible, your event/activity should endeavor to be family-friendly and welcoming to children, so that families with children won’t hesitate to attend with them.  This helps express the community-building and family bonding aspects of the holiday, which are key.

However you choose to mark the occasion, it’s very important to remember that HumanLight is meant to be a festive holiday that focuses on the positive aspects of our secular vision and human values like humanity, compassion, reason and hope. Focusing on criticism or negativity towards religious people or their holidays is not consistent with the intended message or meaning of HumanLight.

unicycle juggler-2011

You might like to include any of the following suggestions at a HumanLight celebration:

– Some kind of shared meal: family dinner at home, catered meal for a large group event, or a potluck dinner.  Most social gatherings are better when eating (and drinking) together is involved!

A candle-lighting ceremony.  Some have developed the tradition of lighting three colored candles (blue, red, yellow/gold) to symbolically represent both the colors of the HumanLight symbol, and the main values of Reason, Compassion and Hope. And some add a fourth candle representing Humanity.

Here’s a suggested text that can be read during the candle lighting.

Decorations!  Some have used a color-scheme for holiday decorations that uses three colors based upon the HumanLight symbol: Red, Blue and Gold/Yellow.  Many different kinds of decorative materials are widely available in red, blue and gold/yellow.  Be creative!

Check out the Decorations page for much more information about candles and decoration ideas!


– Short readings from the work of a well known humanist-oriented author or leader.

– Short talks by a humanist-oriented community leader, or a group discussion.

We emphasize short readings or talks, because we think a HumanLight celebration should not be an occasion for long lectures, speeches or debates.

– Collecting charitable donations, such as food for a local community food bank.

– A silent auction to raise charitable donations. (for example, supporting The Foundation Beyond Belief).

– Performing a community service project together as a group.

– Educational entertainment, such as a professional science demonstration for kids.

– Some celebrations have featured entertainment such as magicians, jugglers, dancers, comedians, karaoke, as well as live musicians (see more info below about music).

Live Juggling performance

– Children’s activities or games such as face-painting, jigsaw puzzles, a crafts table for making decorations.

– Hand out to young childrenThe Affirmations of Humanism Coloring Book“.

– A White Elephant Gift Exchange.

– Show excerpts from nature videos such as: Life on Earth, Cosmos or other appropriate nature or science films/shows.

– Dancing: ballroom and/or contemporary.  A show/performance by dancers, or group participation.


Many people enjoy a live musical performance at their public group celebrations.  Jazz, folk and classical music performances have been done.

Or music could be audience sing-a-longs or playing a recording of popular songs that are appropriate and applicable to HumanLight, such as:

“Imagine” by John Lennon (lyrics), or “Holiday” by Madonna (lyrics).

— Five original HumanLight songs have been composed (so far), and they could be played or performed:

“HumanLight” (lyrics) and (audio recording), and “Decorate the Tree of Knowledge”, (audio recording); both by NY-based musician Sonny Meadows, on his 2002 CD “Let the Light Shine”

These Three Flames” by Monty Harper, 2009: lyrics, music and audio recording

“HumanLight Song” by Sara Brown, 2002 (lyrics and music)

Light a Candle” by Steven Phelps, 2018 (lyrics) , (music) and audio recording

String Theory -2007


A helpful article on helps briefly explain “how to celebrate HumanLight” Click here.


Publicity / Media outreach: 

Local news media are often interested in hearing about a new holiday being celebrated in their area / community.  If you hold a public group event, you can issue a Press Release to local media. Here is a sample press release you can use as a template, and adapt the various details to your event.


Here are some examples of digital wallpaper images:

HumanLight symbol
Celebrating Reason, Compassion, Hope
HumanLight Candles


JFK quote -2011