This custom of decorating outdoor paths with lighted candles on Christmas Eve originated in Mexico as a means to light the way for the Christ Child. The Clarendon Hills tradition of lighting luminaria (meaning little fires) on Christmas Eve was brought to Clarendon Hills in 1965 by Clarendon Hills Infant Welfare (CHIW) member Vi Humphreys. She recruited her neighbors to light 500 luminaria up and down her block that year. The following year, other members of the CHIW sold and delivered 5,000 candles, bags, and sand door-to-door in town as a fundraiser for the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.
Clarendon Hills residents took quickly to the tradition by lining their sidewalks and driveways with the classic brown paper bags illuminated from within by a white candle. By 1968, the ever-growing demand for luminaria meant the end of door-to-door sales and the beginning of a single, central in-town location for sales. By the late 1970s, over 30,000 luminaria candles were being sold and airline pilots were reporting that they could see Clarendon Hills glowing below them on Christmas Eve.
The tradition of holiday luminaria has evolved into a breathtaking expression of community pride and unity still enjoyed by all today. It is truly magical and draws hundreds of visitors from surrounding areas.
The funds raised through the sale of CHIW Luminaria in Clarendon Hills help support the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago's full-service clinic for families that cannot afford health care services. Learn more about Infant Welfare Society of Chicago.
How to Make Luminaria:
1. Open each paper bag.
2. Fold top down twice to make a collar for stability.
3. Weigh down bag with some sand, kitty litter, soil or bird seed.
4. Nestle the candle into the sand.
5. Place bags about 5 feet apart along curb/sidewalk/driveway.
6. Light the candles at dusk on Dec. 24.
Sand is available for CHIW Luminaria at the Lions Pool parking lot in December while supplies last!