Many of us can’t picture Christmas without candles. They are central to lighting this special holiday. Most religions have candle lighting at the heart of their Christmas customs for different reasons.
In any case, with regards to Christmas, many feel that the candles are representative of the Light from Heaven signifying the sun’s light and warmth amidst dark and severe winters particularly during Winter Solstice (21st – 22nd December). What do legends say about Christmas candles and how we use them today are the topics we focus on in today’s post.
The Legends of Christmas Candles
One thing is for sure when talking about Christmas candles. They are seen as a symbol of love, hope, prayer, and passion. Christians consider candles to be “Christ’s Light” and their lighting on Christmas Eve originates from the Jewish “Feast of Lights” or Hanukkah.
The legend behind the Christmas custom says that many years ago, an old shoemaker and his significant other lived in a little town in Austria and albeit exceptionally poor, whatever they possessed they shared with other people. Every night they put a lit candle in the window of their cabin as an indication of friendliness to any voyager in need of shelter.
As the years progressed, war and starvation tormented this little town. However, as if the two were protected, the shoemaker and his wife didn’t suffer as much as their neighbors did.
One night before Christmas, the villagers gathered to talk about their situation reaching the conclusion that there was something uncommon about the shoemaker and his better half since they constantly suffered less. They then asked themselves what was the two did and they didn’t. This is how they came to the idea that there must have been something related to the lighted candle in their window. So they all decided to light a candle.
Therefore, that night all the homes in the village had a lighted candle in their window. Not long after that, before the sun rose, a messenger let the villagers know that the war was over and peace had come. The villagers expressed appreciation to God for this gift of Peace and pledged to constantly light candles on Christmas Eve.
The custom spread all through the world, and every year a huge number of Christmas candles illuminate the world sending a message of affection, hope, kindness, and everlasting bliss.
Christmas Candles – History, Significance, and Uses
The custom of lighting candles and putting them in windows for Christmas dates from the earliest starting point of Christianity. The large candle that was lighted on Christmas Eve was the symbol of Christ, the light of the world and it burned for the entire night thus lighting the way for Mary and Joseph and marking the nativity. It represented the star of Bethlehem, the newborn Christ.
This is how the custom of the Advent Crown and Advent Candles probably started. On the Advent wreath, candles are lit every week to help us remember the coming of Christ. They represent Jesus as the light of the world guiding us through the darkness. The candles thus came to signify faith, devotion, spirituality, and hope. They are also a symbol of the passing life of a human being as they slowly melt away.
Candles are also lighted during the Hanukkah event, a Jewish Festival of light which is likewise celebrated during winter and lasts eight nights. A candle is lighted in an extraordinary menorah (candelabra) called a “hanukkiyah”. Today, candles are also used during the modern winter festival Kwanzaa. People then use a light holder called a kinara.
In Scandinavian countries, for instance, the candle had a special significance. It was very important for a family to burn the Yule Candle. In Scotland, if the candle flame completed before midnight, it was believed that the family would soon deal with a great disaster. In Ireland, candles are made so huge that the candle holders must be cut out of huge turnips in order to be used as candlesticks.
In Southern India, little oil consuming clay lamps are placed on the roof tops of Christians’ home to celebrate Christmas. Christians in China use paper lights to adorn their Christmas trees. Candles are additionally used as a feature of the St. Lucia’s or St. Lucy’s day festivities in Sweden.
Since the candle is a symbol of Jesus seen as the Light of the World, the flame represents the spiritual nature of Jesus whereas the candle is a symbol of His fleshy and human nature. Candles are used to welcome the Christ Child or Christ kind and as an image of the star of the Magi. When three candles are used, they symbolize the Trinity.
Christmas Candles as Gifts
Christmas candles were first given as a gift in the 1800s when candle makers and grocers in England offered their loyal customers large candles as a gift. Today, they are the most popular items given and received as a Christmas gift. The market offers a great variety of shapes, colors, and sizes and if you search more, you can even get custom candles to warm up your dear one’s heart.
Traditional candles are often replaced with the electric ones to light the Christmas tree in order to reduce the risk of fire. Plus, candle warmers are used to warm the wax and thus spread the candle’s aroma throughout one’s room.