Candles date back to 3000 BC
It’s thought that the first candles were created by the Ancient Egyptians in around 3000 BC. They didn’t have proper wicks, but were made from reeds dipped in fat. The wick-centred candles we use today were probably developed by the Romans, in 500 BC; and they also gave us the word “candle” (from the Latin candela, meaning torch).
Candles have been made from all sorts of things
Candles have been made from all sorts of materials: beeswax, rushes (like the Egyptians), tallow (smelly, rendered animal fat), spermaceti from whales, yak butter (Tibet) paraffin and soy.
Candle’s were an important job
The person in charge of the medieval household’s candles was called a “chandler”, and it was an important and trusted role. The term later became used for candle sellers, and then for a shop that dealt in ship’s equipment. It’s related to the term “chandelier”, meaning an ornate, branched light fitting that held lots of candles (now bulbs).
Candles tell the time
As well as providing light, candles provided a rudimentary way of telling the time. After dark, sundials weren’t much use, so a notched candle gave a basic idea of the passing of time. Need an alarm clock? Stick a nail in the candle at a specific notch. When the candle burns down to that particular hour, the nail will fall down with a clang.
Look don’t touch
A candle flame typically burns at around 1000°C to 1400°C. To put this into context, lava (on the earth’s surface) is about 1200°C.
The first birthday cake candles
Lighting candles on a child’s birthday cake is believed to date back to the Middle Ages, with a German tradition called Kinderfest.
How candles are used in worship
Candles feature in worship and celebrations in many modern religions. Diwali, for example, is the Hindu festival of lights and candles play a major part, while candles are lit in front of statues of the Buddha to represent the light of his teachings. The Catholic Church stipulates that all its liturgical candles must be at least half beeswax, because this comes from virgin bees, as Christ came from a virgin mother. The Jewish Menorah features seven lights, each representing a branch of human knowledge.
The world’s tallest candle
The world record for the world’s tallest candle is a long-held one. A 24.38 metre-high candle was on display at the Stockholm Exhibition in 1897. When you added its base, it soared to a skyscraping 38.7 metres tall.
The first cake with candles
The tradition of candles on a cake goes back even further, to the Ancient Greeks, in fact. Worshippers presented round cakes with lit candles to the moon goddess, Artemis. The light represented the moon’s glow, while the smoke carried prayers up to the goddess.
The British love their candles
The average British shopper buys six candles a year. A 2019 survey found that over a third of us buy candles because we find them relaxing, and two-fifths buy them to make their homes smell nicer. The most popular time to purchase a candle is Mother’s Day, followed by the festive season.
Here at Six Seven Twenty we pride ourself on creating a range of beautifully scented, soy wax candles to fill your home with calm. Check out all our candles here.