The festival begins at sunset on the longest night of the year, our Winter Solstice. Illuminarium honors Hupogaia, the Goddess of the Underworld. At sunset, Amorans either gather at a temple dedicated to Hupogaia or in their homes and light candles or fire pits. They stay up through the night and talk about those who have gone on to the Underworld since the previous Illuminarium. They grieve. They laugh. They remember their lost loved ones.
As dawn approaches, they burn asphodel petals. Asphodel is said to be the food of the dead.
Once the sun has broken the horizon, they extinguish the flames and celebrate life. Even though it's a long dark night without their loved ones, the sun has risen and it's very golden--or maj--to be alive. The Amorans exchange gifts and will often eat, dance, and make merry up to a week afterwards.
As Illuminarium comes in our realm, I think of my uncle who passed away in March. He was a big man who gave the best hugs and made awesome food. He loved Salem football (local high school) and going to yardsales, garage sales, etc. He knew I loved collecting owls, so when he found something at a yardsale, he would buy it for me. My favorite item is an owl teapot.
As an Illuminarium gift, I give to you a free copy of Reborn, the first book in The Fate Challenges. Use the coupon code JL35Q at checkout on Smashwords. The coupon code is good until December 31, 2015.