One of the most comforting items that I could not bring to college with me can be found in the homes of millions of individuals today. Offices, living spaces, apartments, and just about any livable space can be accompanied by these items because they bring comfort and serenity to all individuals in its path. Candles, found in thousands of different scents and colors, light up our senses throughout all seasons. Pumpkin Spice this fall, peppermint come winter, flowers in the spring, and the beach in the summer? Who would not want to be reminded of the simplicities of life year ‘round.
According the National Candle Association, the true origin of the candle remains a mystery, but it was believed to have been truly crafted during the Han Dynasty in China around 200 BC. Though there is also mention of the Egyptians using the wicked candles in 3000 BC and the Romans using similar means in their time, so to say where it was truly crafted remains up for debate (“The National Candle Association”, par. 3). Wicked candles were essentially made out of whale fats and fats left over from family dinners since the price of beeswax was too high for chandlers, otherwise known as candle-makers. Chandlers would knock on the doors of neighbors and individuals in the town over for their dinner scraps to aid in their profession. When these materials were scarce, three substitutes, spermaceti, colza oil, and rapeseed oil, aided in the cost and quality of producing the candles, making them more accessible and affordable for consumers (ASBL, par. 4). Consumers would benefit from the warmth, light, and time-keeping capabilities of the candle, but in a modern-day society, consumers would benefit from the fragrance and aesthetic aspects of the purchase.
I am essentially evaluating the impact of candles on civic life throughout the many years to gain a deeper understanding of their true significance in our history and modern-day world.
- Winter was harsh in many regions of the world, therefore candles were crucial in the maintaining of body heat when on-the-go or in areas where fires could not be started
- Portability; since fires could only be started in certain conditions, candles made the lives of many individuals easier
- Wet wood would not suffice
- Burned for many hours giving individuals warmth throughout their journeys
- Ancient Egyptians used similar means to light pathways underground and at night
- Candles could be carried to see better at night; think of Scrooge walking throughout his house without any light
- No electricity
- Candles only burn for a certain amount of time meaning that individuals could time events based off of their burn time
- Used to keep track of hours passed at night
- Time depended on the burning of the wick
- Décor in homes
The historical and cultural history of this item has deemed the candle an artifact, and seeing as this item still remains within our society today only further proves the significance of its impact on civic life. For example, this artifact has been pertinent in instances such as the celebration of the eight days of Hanukkah where the event is honored with the lighting of the Menorah. Candles are also prominent in other religious ceremonies, holidays, and traditional events. Candles are placed on cakes for the celebrations of birthdays and honor of those who have passed. They are lit at weddings and induction ceremonies and ultimately serve as a symbol of unity among many peoples and cultures. The candle is an artifact that brings individuals from all different backgrounds together in ways that only few artifacts can do due to the fact that the candle has been around for such a long period of time.
ASBL, European Candle Association. “Frequently asked questions (FAQ).” European Candle
Association ASBL- High Quality Candles From Europe- FAQ, eca.ral-candles.eu/. Accessed 20
“The National Candle Association | NCA.” National Candle Association, candles.org/. Accessed
20 Sept. 2017.