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New Downtown Holiday Banners Celebrate Cultural Traditions

SAN LUIS OBISPO—Downtown San Luis Obispo has a bit more holiday cheer this season thanks to the new pedestrian light pole banner art installed throughout the Downtown core last Friday. The project is the work of the City’s Promotional Coordinating Committee, in coordination with Downtown SLO, to expand on the banner art beautification work initiated earlier this year. The holiday banner art is the second collection in the new banner art series. The first collection installed featured cultural icons in San Luis Obispo and was installed in August.

The holiday banner art honors the diversity in our community. They demonstrate the vibrancy of our community and convey a sense of welcome, diversity, and inclusion to both visitors and residents. The banner art was designed by local creative firm, (iii) Design, and depicts bold interpretations of end-of-year cultural celebrations observed in our community.

Banner designs feature:

  •  Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting and games including dreidel, as pictured on the banner. The 4 Hebrew letters on the dreidel stand for “A Great Miracle Happened There.” L’Chaim in Hebrew is a toast meaning “to life!” Hanukkah 2019 begins in the evening of December 22 and ends in the evening of December 30. There will be a nightly candle lighting ceremony outside Mission San Luis Obispo each night of Hanukkah at 5pm (Saturday night, 5:30pm).
  •  In Latin American cultures, Noche Buena (Christmas eve) is often a bigger celebration than Christmas day. Families gather together to share a special meal and celebrate with music and dancing. Poinsettias are a popular symbol and are called “Flor de Noche Buena.” Noche Buena is December 24, 2019.
  •  Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration to honor African heritage, culminating in gift- giving, and a feast. There are 7 principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), Imani (Faith). Kwanzaa symbols shown on the banner include: a Kinara (candle holder), Mishumaa Saba (seven candles), Mahindi (corn), and a Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup). Kwanzaa 2019 begins on Thursday, December 26 and ends on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.
  •  In the United States New Year traditions include fireworks, counting down to the stroke of midnight, making New Year’s resolutions, and singing Auld Lang Syne. Featured on the banner is the Volny Heritage Clock located on the corner of Monterey and Osos streets. The SLO Children’s Museum celebrates Noon Year’s Eve each year celebrating in the afternoon rather than at night. New Year’s Eve is December 31, 2019.
  • The kadomatsu featured on the banner are traditional Japanese decorations placed in pairs in front of homes to welcome ancestral spirits or kami of the harvest. They are placed after Christmas until January 7 and are considered temporary housing for kami. The characters coupled with the kadomatsu imagery deliver a message of ‘Happy New Year’. On the last day of the year, the Japanese tradition of Omisoka is observed. People often complete activities for the concluding year, such as house cleaning and repaying debts, in order to start the new year fresh. Omisoka is December 31, 2019.
  •  Chinese or Lunar New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year based on the traditional Chinese calendar. Customs for celebrating vary widely around the world: families might gather together for a dinner or thoroughly clean their house to make way for incoming good luck. Often celebrations include lighting beautiful lanterns which have been featured in the design along with clouds signifying good luck. The Fú character included means fortune. Chinese New Year is January 25, 2020.
  •  The symbol featured on this banner, Assalamu Alaikum, is a year-round greeting in Arabic which means “May Peace be upon you.” The graphic element is inspired by a Turkish architectural design.

Informative flyers describing the celebrations depicted on the banners are available digitally through the City’s website, and in print at the Downtown SLO office and San Luis Obispo Visitor Center.

The goal of the project is to add new banner art throughout San Luis Obispo and to establish a process and design standard for pedestrian light pole banners in and around the City. The City is also working to create a banner design style guide for community partners to use for future banners.

Editor’s Note:  Attached are sample banner images, courtesy of the City of San Luis Obispo.

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