Burning Candles

Maybe our modern mind associates burning candles with the creation of a quiet and even romantic atmosphere in the intimacy of a cozy place, but things used to be different in the past when burning candles was a necessity. In times when electricity could have seemed a science fiction achievement, candles were the only way to light homes at night; nevertheless, even then, for some, burning candles was a privilege. When we think of candles we may imagine the beautiful shapes, colors and scents that are part of the features of modern wax work, but things used to be quiet different two centuries ago.

Burning candles made of bees wax was a privilege reserved to the aristocracy and the clergy; the poor made candles of animal lard, and they were neither clean nor perfumed. On the contrary, burning candles meant a very heavy smell and lots of smoke in the houses of those for whom bees wax was a luxury beyond reach. On the other hand, the nobles lit their huge castles with chandeliers with hundreds of burning candles; the great advantage of bees wax is that it burns in the cleanest of ways: no dripping and no smoke. Such a feature also makes wax candles the only acceptable choice for the religious service even today.

Besides the very practical side of burning candles, one cannot ignore the mystical and even esoteric dimension attached to the custom. We can understand the deep roots of such traditions if we merely think of the importance of burning candles on major ceremonial occasions in one's life: we burn candles to celebrate Christian baptisms, weddings, birthdays and so on. All cultures have a peculiar symbolism related to burning candles, regardless of whether we refer to witchcraft, Buddhist relaxation methods or Christian sermons. All practices have a common reference point: the creation of an atmosphere that allows the happy meeting of the physical and the spiritual.


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