The power of candles
Candles have an elaborate history. On one hand, it is simple – they are a pile of wax and wick that provide light and even a little bit of heat. Early candles were made of tallow and occasionally, at prohibitive expense – beeswax. At their core, candles are humanity’s first attempt at bringing portable, long lasting light into the home. In early times candles were expensive and time consuming to make, so lighting a candle was a deliberate and thoughtful decision.
But the history of the candle is so much more than just light. The Song Dynasty in China used candles two thousand years ago to mark time and in many belief systems they have been used for centuries as calendars – each candle burned, marks the passing of an important day. Candles are used in religious services of all kinds, from births to funerals, in cathedrals, mosques and temples.
The act of lighting a candle has always been seen as significant. It changes the state of the room, the state of the moment. Bringing light, even in an age of electricity, still has a sense of magic to it. The flickering light of a candle has been shown to make us relax, to encourage a meditative state and even lower blood pressure. Add to this today’s scented waxes and you have a ritual that changes the home in three ways:
- a candle brings light;
- it brings a sense of well-being and calm;
- and it fills the air with fragrance.
We may no longer need them to light our homes, to tell us the time or to warm our rooms – but the ritual of lighting a candle is as much metaphorical as it is concrete. It feels as though we are doing something to enhance our environment. Lighting a candle is our way of bringing “light” to our homes.