Candles have been used for centuries to provide warmth and light.  Furthermore, they have been included in religious ceremonies for just as long.  The history of the candle is intimately connected with the history of religion.  The symbolism and usage varies from religion to religion, but the candle itself does not. 

Candles have been used in Christian religious ceremonies for a great many years.  They are generally used to symbolize the light of God, or more specifically the light of Christ.  Most often, they are placed on an alter for all to see.  In the Orthodox denominations, the candles are lit by worshippers in front of religious icons.  During the Christmas celebrations of times passed, candles were also used in place of modern lights.

In Judaism, candles are lit at the beginning of the weekly Sabbath celebrations.  They are also lit on during the Havdalah celebrations, marking the end of the Sabbath.  One of the major Jewish holiday celebrations is called Hanukkah.  It is also known as the Festival of Lights.  In the Jewish faith, this holiday is celebrated by lighting a candle in a special candle holder called a Menorah.  The candles are lit each and every night of the 8 day celebration.  They are intended to commemorate the dedication of the alter at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Candles have also been used in Pagan or Wiccan ceremonies.  They are generally meant to represent the God and Goddess.  They are also used to represent the four elements in a ritual circle.  In this instance, candles are lit and extinguished to mark the openings and closings of the ceremony.  Candles are also used frequently during meditation, and when performing ceremonies of a magical nature.

In modern times, candles continue to play a significant role in many religious ceremonies.  In an age where the differences between the various religious denominations have become such a divisive force, it is refreshing to remind one another of the things we have in common.  In some circles, the candle has come to represent the light of reason or the concept of rational thought.  Let us hope that the light of reason will continue to dispel the darkness of our differences.

About the Author

Cassie Morgan is a regular contributor to candlesandcandlemaking.com – a wonderful website with extensive information about unity candles, candle making, aromatherapy and more. This article was written by candlelight.