As the nights get longer up here in the Northern hemisphere, we look forward to having a bit more light. When you’re not in the mood for a lightbulb, you might consider lighting a candle.
Candles are used for a wide range of purposes: religious, decorative, symbolic, and as a light source for when the electricity goes out. Here’s a list of a few candle things and candle traditions to light up your evening on this Themed Thing Thursday.
A list with candles at both ends (and in the middle)
The 8-day Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights, is observed in part by the nightly lighting candles in the Hanukkah Menorah, or Hanukiah. Today was the second day of Hanukkah. (Hanukiyot photo by photo by Beth Brewer.)
Candles are also featured in many celebrations of the Christian holiday Christmas, such as with advent candles. Other traditions include using candles to decorate, such as using them on trees. Contemporary Christmas tree lights evolved from this tradition, as electricity became available, though in Denmark, people still decorate Christmas trees with real lighted candles. People will also place candles in windows, a practice said to have been popularized in Colonial Williamsburg.
In Sweden, as part of the traditional celebration of this holiday (December 13th), girls will wear a wreath on the head with lit candles to celebrate Saint Lucia.¹ “>Apparently people have also moved to battery-operated candles:
In Sweden we do not wear candles anymore because before girls caught their hair on fire very often. Today we use modern candles with batteries in them.
How many miles to Babylon?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candlelight?
Yes, and back again.
Our current understanding of this phrase refers to a life that is lived frenetically and unsustainably – working or enjoying oneself late into the night only to begin again early the next day. It didn’t having that meaning when it was first coined in the 18th century. The both ends then weren’t the ends of the day but were a literal reference to both ends of a candle. Candles were useful and valuable (see not worth the candle) and the notion of waste suggested by lighting both ends at once implied reckless waste. This thought may well have been accentuated by the fact that candles may only be lit at both ends when held horizontally, which would cause them to drip and burn out quickly.
¹ My friend Gregory, who recently moved to Sweden mentioned recently that he would soon be sharing some information on this tradition:
They put candles everywhere except the roof of their cars (they do wear them on their heads, as I will explain in a couple of weeks)…