The Christmas lights at Liverpool Hope University are shining brightly having been switched-on to welcome Advent.
And the University’s Vice Chancellor and Rector Professor Gerald Pillay hopes the tradition is seen as a symbol of how light can ‘overcome darkness’ in times of uncertainty.
While social distancing rules mean crowds were unable to gather on Taggart Avenue at the University’s Hope Park campus this year, the ceremony instead moved online for the first time.
Addressing an audience on YouTube, Professor Pillay gave a heartfelt introduction, revealing just why the lights had to be lit, even though fewer people will get to enjoy them this year.
He explained: “This year while we were in lockdown our gardens were at their very best. Daffodils, roses and tulips bloomed in our absence.
“So why did we plant 2,500 bulbs last week for next year when everything is still so restricted and uncertain?
“The answer is that we live in hope, and we must live in hope. To not have anything to look forward to would destroy us.
“Normally, as you know, on the first of December we gather in front of the Gateway Building, we fill the space around Taggart Avenue, drinking mulled wine or hot chocolate, when the Christmas lights are switched on.
“That sadly is not possible this year, for reasons we all know very well.
“So when I was asked, ‘Should we have the lights put up when we can’t be there to enjoy them?’, my answer was, ‘Of course’ - for the same reasons that we planted the bulbs for next year.”
Just before a short countdown to the turn-on began, Professor Pillay added: “We must switch on the lights. We have to proclaim hope, even though it’s dark and uncertain. Christmas is coming.”
The Christmas lights will remain lit each day until the night of Epiphany on 6 January.
Speaking ahead of the event, Professor Pillay had said: “In these days of gathering darkness on so many fronts, we shall symbolically proclaim that light overcomes darkness as we prepare our hearts and homes for celebration and Hope.
“These times will soon pass and we shall all be together again, God willing.”
To watch the switch-on again, head here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC7Bo9QUpNY&feature=youtu.be