A Tradition of Love and Light at Hampshire Country School
On December 13th, Hampshire Country School (HCS) will host its third annual Luminary Festival. Over a few hours, students and faculty will build and place over 500 specially decorated bags with candles along campus driveways. After darkness falls, a select group of students will light the lights while others enjoy dinner. The result is a spectacular display casting a magical glow over campus. These simple yet profound symbols carry special messages, hopes for the coming year, and remembrances of loved ones.
Everyone on campus says goodbye to the past year, writing down those things they hope to leave behind to be turned to ash by a warm campfire. Similarly, students and adults alike write down and seal a wish for the coming year, to be returned in an envelope, in person, or by mail at next year’s festival. This simple custom offers a serious moment of self-reflection and grounds students in traditions that bring the whole school community together.
Head of School Beth Venable shares, “We are simultaneously reflecting on this year, imagining the possibilities for next year, and honoring those we miss or have lost. At the heart of the festival is the building and placement of over 500 paper bag lanterns that light up one of the longest nights of the year. It is an awe-inspiring shared experience, both joyful and spiritual, for all.”
The Luminary Festival is also an important fundraiser for the HCS Annual Fund, a way of spreading the light of HCS’s long-term health as a nonprofit school. One hundred percent of our Board of Trustees also participate by giving and encouraging others to take part in this beautiful celebration.
About Hampshire Country School
Hampshire Country School is a Place of Possibilities for up to 20 high-ability, neurodivergent boys entering upper elementary or middle school. The nonprofit boarding school and Timbertop summer camp programs offer understanding, light-heartedness, and structure to educate boys in a family-style, supportive, and calming learning community. Our nearly 2,000-acre campus and working farm in southern New Hampshire allow for plenty of time and space for students to learn and grow at their own pace.