SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY(WBRE/WYOU) — The Longest Night Service held on December 21, the first day of Winter, is a way for people to find some peace during the hectic holiday season.

Next Tuesday, December 21, is the shortest day of the year and in 2004 a religious service was held to help people cope with the darkness.

Reporter Kerry Shahen was there.

The Longest Night Service is special to Reverand Mary Jane Hitt. She says a lot of people struggle with the holidays and it’s important to recognize that.

“This is a service that reflects on the reality of those feelings and allows people a place to cry and to feel the way they feel, but without the pressure of the mall and the kinds of things that get in the way,” said Reverand Mary Jane Hitt.

During the service, there is a bowl of water, representing a trail of tears. Everyone was invited to add salt to the bowl as a way to share their sorrows, as well as a way to heal.

As they came forward to be blessed, many congregates said they were thinking of lost loved ones.

“There have been some personal losses in my family, my sister’s father-in-law for one, and my father died several years ago. But, it just brings back several memories of these people you’ve lost,” said Jacque Thorpe, Scranton.

“I was thinking of someone who lost a loved one,” said Scranton Resident, Frances Townsend. “I was thinking how difficult the season will be for her.”

Most say coming together and sharing their feelings, even if they’re unspoken, is a great source of comfort.