In early December, each year, a young girl or boy from Austria travels to Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus. During a solemn ceremony at the Grotto of Christ's Birth in the Church of the Nativity, a candle is lit at the eternal flame and placed in a special lantern. Many local people, including Scouts and Guides from the State of Palestine and Israel, are present and some accompany the ORF Peace Light to Tel Aviv airport from where it is flown to Austria.
For the last 25 years, representatives of Scout and Guide associations from Europe and beyond have been gathering in Vienna, Austria, to light their own candles from the Peace Light Lantern and carry it back to their local communities.
A unique feature of the event is the time constraint. Scouts and Guides in Europe can only collect the Peace Light at the sharing ceremony in Vienna, which will take place on 14 December 2013, and it is only then that the Light begins its journey by road, rail and ferry. The Light is never allowed to go out and it is cared for by different members of the accompanying group in turn to ensure it travels in safety to all who wish to share this symbol of peace and hope.
Each year, a growing number of Scouts and Guides brings the Light across the continent to other locations, and from there, it continues its journey to towns, villages and into our homes. Time is limited and a continued effort and determination is required to ensure it arrives in your community.
Every Scout and Guide Group can participate through organised networks in individual countries. The number of participating countries has increased over the years, and it is hoped that many more Scouts and Guides around the world will take part in the future. This is why the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) will be supporting the Peace Light event this year through the Messengers of Peace network.
Since 1986, when the project was first initiated by ORF Oberösterreich, the Upper Austria Studio of the Austrian Broadcasting Company, the Peace Light has become a symbol of peace and hope and through the interactions of Scouts, Guides and many other members of volunteer associations, it has carried its warmth into people’s homes. In order for the Light to travel to farthest corners of Europe and the world, it needs people to connect and share the Light.
The Peace Light also travels to other countries outside of Europe, and this often happens a little earlier than the main ceremony in Vienna to allow enough time for the Light to reach destinations far away. In 2013, the Peace Light will reach the USA in New York on 4 December already, from which it will travel across the USA and onward to Canada, Mexico and beyond.
When the Peace Light arrives in your city, town or village, it is transferred from the hands of the carrying volunteers (mostly Scouts and Guides) to local communities, often at specially arranged ceremonies and services. Please check websites and social media pages of your own association for details about where and when the Peace Light is distributed in your country.
Scouts are encouraged to take part and share their stories through the Peace Light event page on Scout.org. We have created a special world map to track the Peace Light 2013 as it travels to our communities. All participating Scouts on local, regional and national level are invited to place a pin on this world map to show the Peace Light has arrived in their community.
Scout.org and the Peace Light 2013 event page would like to hear all of your stories and see all your images, both before and after your distribution of the Peace Light, so that stories can be shared globally and inspire other Scouts, Scout Groups and National Scout Organisations to participate this year and in the future.
Scouts and NSOs are also invited to log in all the hours of action that Scouts will have done during their events around the Peace Light 2013 and any related activities in their community to display the impact that Scouts are having in their communities towards creating and maintaining peace worldwide.
Peace project challenge
We have created a special challenge for Scouts for the Peace Light 2013. This challenge encourages you to spread peace through a service project.
Create your peace project on Scout.org so the world can see what you do for peace.
The following websites have information about the activities in your countries. We suggest you visit them to find out what is happening and how to take part.
If you would like to share details of your events on this special page you can do so too. It will help to keep everyone informed. If your association’s special Peace Light website is missing please tell us so that it can be added to the list.
- WAGGGS website