Holidays may be defined by events and identified by symbols, but they are demarcated by traditions.
Christmas, for example, celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, symbolized by the nativity scene. The holiday, however, also is linked to secular symbols, including some derived from sacred sources. They include Santa Claus, his sleigh and reindeer, Christmas trees; candy canes, etc.
Traditions also may be both spiritual and tangible, ranging from national to individual.
An abundance of community Christmas traditions will be showcased in Jefferson City in coming days, beginning with the third annual Mayor's Christmas tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. today in Rotary Park overlooking the Missouri River at the north end of Bolivar Street.
The event illuminates a full weekend of activities, including:
• The Living Windows holiday extravaganza from 6-9 p.m. Friday downtown. Storefronts will come alive with singers, dancers and performers during an evening that also features hayrides, the News Tribune's Candy Cane House and Santa's annual visit with children at Hawthorn Bank. Now in its 22nd year, attendance has more than tripled and draws more than 20,000 people.
• Candlelight Tours of the Governor's Mansion will be from 6:30-9 p.m. Friday and from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. Docents will describe some of the holiday history as they guide visitors among seasonal decor.
• The Jefferson City Jaycees Christmas parade at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the downtown area. A holiday mainstay, the parade now is in its seventh decade.
• Christkindelfest on Saturday in the Old Munichburg district. A holiday celebration in German fashion, activities will take place in and around Central United Church of Christ on West Ashley Street.
Traditions illuminate the many ways we, as a community, celebrate the Christmas season.
This weekend's traditions acknowledge the community's German heritage, the beginnings of its commercial districts and its designation as the seat of state government.
And the events offer a time to enjoy, to participate and to celebrate.