This is my second favourite time of the year. I enjoy the darkness setting in earlier each day so that I can light a candle or switch on the lights. It’s just magical. Even more so when having young children. Around the world people light candles for many reasons, especially during this festive season. Each culture has its own rituals for lighting candles, but most use them to celebrate and honor traditions. So let’s learn more…
Every culture has different tradition
The ancient Romans in particular lit candles in their temples and spiritual spaces. The lighting of candles before a shrine as a show of respect is also common in Buddhist and Hindu traditions. In types of Christianity, votive candles are often used in this way and are also lit to represent prayer intentions.1
The role of candles today
Nowadays, we light candles to set a romantic mood and to relax. Some people light candles throughout their homes for their different scents and the warm glow they radiate. We light and blow out candles on birthday cakes and make wishes – an old tradition steeped in the belief that smoke took one’s prayers to the heavens to be heard and answered. My son being born after Christmas wishes to have sparkles on his cake this year.
Candles in the Jewish tradition
During the festive season, Jewish people light the Hanukkah menorah with nine candles, eight of which symbolize the “miracle of the oil” while the tallest middle candle is used to light the others. Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah annually celebrates the rededication of the temple. According to tradition, the Jewish warriors only had enough holy oil to light the eternal flame for one night when they entered the temple. Miraculously, that small bit of oil burned for eight days – the exact amount of time it took to press and consecrate more oil.2
Kwanzaa – a celebration of light
Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration where a candle is lit each night. There are three red candles on the right (representing the struggles of the past and present), three green candles on the left (representing a hopeful future), and one black candle in the middle (representing the skin color of people of African descent. The black candle is lit on the first night and each subsequent night of Kwanzaa, one of the other candles is lit, alternating from left to right. On the final night, all seven candles are lit, and children receive gifts.3
Advent celebrated by the Christians
Many Christians celebrate Advent, which begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. During Advent, a horizontal evergreen wreath with four candles is hung. Beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, a candle is lit each Sunday, signifying the wait for the birth of Christ.4
Diwali – the celebration of the power of light
Diwali is the five-day Indian celebration of the power of light over darkness. Diwali was on November 4, 2021 but the actual dates change annually according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Diwali marks a time of wishes for the coming year, and candles are lit throughout the home and community to represent the power of light. Floating candles are sent out on the water to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity.5
No matter how you celebrate the festive season, we wish you joy, Active Wellness and prosperity. For wonderful gift ideas, take a look at the Nikken Festive Season Gift Guide. (a clickable link).
2, 3, 4. https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-do-people-celebrate-the-winter-holidays-in-different-ways
How do you celebrate your festive season? Do you have a family tradition you do each year? Please comment below.
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Lucie Patel Varekova, Bc.
Ambassador for the Human Being More Movement