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Light the Darkness

December 3, 2018

As you already know, the dark days are upon us, but it’s still possible to find beauty, community, coziness, and light during the winter. Little moments like icicles glittering in the moonlight. Or candlelight flickering on the faces of your loved ones. 

At Sea-Tac International Airport, we’re inspired by the many cultures around the world with traditions of bringing light to the wintertime darkness. 

On Columbia’s Little Candles Day, many candles and paper lanterns are placed everywhere they can be seen like windowsills, balconies, porches, sidewalks, streets, parks, and town squares.

Trees in Holland are lit with fairy lights for a warm glow. 

Trees in Holland lit up
Photo credit: Sandien, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The oldest daughters in Scandinavia wear white dresses and wreaths with candles on their heads on December 13. In Denmark, neighbors go door to door carrying candlelit lanterns. 

In India, people clean their homes, open the windows, and light hundreds of small oil lamps in their homes to signify the triumph of good over evil. 

Hundreds of oil lanterns

African-American communities light candles every day for seven days to symbolize unity, cooperation, and creativity. 

Mexico’s celebration is a candle-lit procession that goes door to door with singing and breaking pinatas. 

In China, homes are lit with paper lanterns and trees of light are decorated with paper chains, flowers, and lanterns. 


In the Philippines, star lanterns are lit at home and are carried in processions through town.

To celebrate the new year, Brazilians go to the beach at midnight, light hundreds of candles in the sand, and throw white flowers into the water. Celebrations with drumming and singing begin at midnight and continue until dawn. 

Native cultures that could view the Aurora Borealis celebrated the spirits of animals, their ancestors and warriors. 

The aurora borealis in the night sky

Jewish communities around the world light candles for eight nights.

In Thailand on the night of the full moon, people bring lotus-shaped vessels made of banana leaves filled with scented incense sticks, flowers, and coins to the rivers. They launch the craft and make a wish, and the boats carry away bad luck and promise a good start to the year. And hot air lanterns are released into the sky.

Thailand lanterns in the sky and water

The French celebrate the winter solstice by lighting candles and burning a yule log.

In the U.S., many families brighten their homes with lighted trees and outdoor light decorations. 

Novelist Edith Wharton once said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” So to light the dark Northwest winter and celebrate connection between our neighbors and the world, Sea-Tac International Airport is holding our own Northwest-style Season of Light. 

Season of Light at Sea-Tac Airport

Join us for the activities below and share your photos on social media at #SEAtheCheer:

  • Live holiday performance art, parades, carols, puppetry, music, souvenir giveaways, and more throughout the terminal!  
  • A photo booth so you can pose as Sasquatch, a Seahawks fan, and other Seattle-themed characters in fun face cut-outs. Then tweet, Facebook, or Instagram your holiday souvenir using hashtag #SEAthecheer!  

Wrap your gifts after security

The TSA advises that wrapped gifts carried through security may need to be opened for closer inspection. So a better way is to come to the airport with unwrapped gifts and use the two gift wrapping stations post-security in the Central Terminal between 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit the USO Northwest. 

Help the Make-A-Wish Foundation

Now in its fifth year of partnership with The Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Concessionaires at Sea-Tac provide special experiences for Make-A-Wish children and their families as they start their "wish trip" from Sea-Tac Airport. Santa, his elf, and other costumed characters will meet and greet the child and family to share gifts and festive merriment.

Festive art

Sea-Tac Airport is partnering with The Nordic Museum on a collection of art that showcases the wintertime celebrations and traditions of Nordic culture. Passengers and visitors can view the collection before security on the south end of the ticketing level of Sea-Tac Airport throughout the month of December. 

This holiday schedule is provided by the Concessionaires at Sea-Tac. 

December 16-24 

  • Santa, elves, and other costumed characters will surprise and delight passengers in the terminal with entertainment and music, souvenir giveaways, and more 
  • Parade departing from Concourse C at 9:30 a.m. every day
  • Season of Light decorations
  • Gift wrapping station benefiting USO Northwest
  • Special food and beverage items by the Concessionaires at Sea-Tac 
  • Local and world-renowned performers to Sea-Tac Airport during peak passenger traffic hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

December 19-20

  • Live reindeer from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
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