Let the illumination commence this September as we celebrate World Candle Month. With the summer winding down and the cooler, darker, autumn taking over, September is the perfect time of year to celebrate the remarkable history and modern relevance of the humble (and not so humble) candle. Founded in 2013, World Candle Month unites candle aficionados around the globe in an effort to “slow down and appreciate the everyday moments of simple pleasures.”
Candles have an illustrious history (as we’ll get to in a moment) but they are currently as relevant as ever. World Candle Month highlights the many ways that candles, scented or otherwise, can be incorporated into our daily lives. Once used to bring light into dark places, candles are now a source of calm and relaxation with scents designed to freshen any space and improve any mood. Stick with us as we celebrate all the ways candles are integral to our past and can be a welcome addition to our future.
History of World Candle Month
As you might have already guessed candles have been around for a very long time. There’s evidence that the ancient Egyptians used a rudimentary form of a wicked candle as far back as 3000 BC and it is well-known that the ancient Romans had developed candles with wicks. Once made with animal fat called tallow, candle making evolved over the years and in different parts of the globe to include the use of wax from many different plants, insects, and even certain tree nuts.
Throughout the millennia progress was slow. In middle age Europe improvements came in the form of using the cleaner-burning and better-smelling beeswax rather than tallow. However, their cost made them prohibitive outside of church ceremonies and the homes of the very rich. In the late colonial-era, the growth of the whaling industry led to the use of crystalized sperm whale oil known as spermaceti.
However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that candles and the process we’re most familiar with today would take shape. The 1830s saw the mechanization of candle making (or chandling) making them significantly less expensive to produce and opening their use up to a larger population. In the 1850s the nascent petroleum industry developed a way to separate a waxy substance called paraffin from petroleum at scale. Paraffin would be the most common form of candle wax for more than a century.
It is around the turn of the 20th century that candle use changed from being a source of light to being a source of entertainment. The light bulb displaced the candle as the primary light bringer in the late 19th century and their numbers stayed steady until the 1980s when candles, now often scented, saw a resurgence as decoration, mood-setters, or even gifts. The candle industry continues to grow today as advances in wax, scent, and color technology offer consumers a panoply of options for their homes.
World Candle Month timeline
The ancient Egyptians created wicked candles that were used in religious ceremonies and to illuminate dark homes.
The Jewish Festival of Hanukkah features the lighting of 8 candles over 8 days to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees.
The use of animal fat or tallow was replaced by far cleaner-burning and better-smelling beeswax. Though these were so expensive they were rarely seen out of church.
Inventor Joseph Morgan created the first machine for the continuous production of molded candles, making them much more affordable and increasing their popularity.
The byproduct of petroleum refinement, paraffin burns cleanly, is odorless, and was readily available as the industrial revolution was underway.
Once considered an essential, candles had a complete rebrand in the 20th Century as a luxury and relaxation item that was both decorative and useful. It would really hit its stride in the 80s and 90s.
Recognizing a need to educate and celebrate one of the most important tools in human history, World Candle Month was founded and has grown into a major celebration.
World Candle Month FAQs
Are candles safe to burn indoors?
Candles can very safely be used indoors, but with the proper precautions. Never leave a candle unattended, keep flammable items away from the candle, avoid drafts or vents, and keep kids and pets clear of the candles are just a few tips for safely burning indoors.
What are some ways to teach my kids about candles?
Candles can be an excellent and inexpensive tool to help children learn the scientific method. Develop a science experiment where children safely measure the burn rates of different kinds of wicks, or measure flame heights or relative brightness of certain kinds of candles. As long as you follow proper safety procedures, candles can be great learning tools.
How many candle scents are there?
There are roughly 10,000 different candle scents available in the U.S. That’s more than enough options for even the most discerning scent connoisseur.
World Candle Month Activities
There’s a lot yet to learn about candles and the way they work can be as illuminating as the flames themselves. For instance, did you know that on the space shuttle candle flames are spherical? Dig into the science behind the wick and discover some insights for yourself.
Create a fragrance fiesta with different scented candles:
There’s practically no limit to the number of scents modern candles can produce. Create your own scent landscape by lighting some complementary scented candles and create a 3 dimension candle-scent experience.
Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate:
Candles are ubiquitous with relaxation. From their soothing light to the options for calming scents, they can be an integral part of your winding down regimen. Light a candle, grab a book, draw a bath, and let the stresses of the day melt away (wine is a nice addition too).
Why We Love World Candle Month
It celebrates a critical invention
The wheel gets all the attention but where would the world be without candles? It would have surely been a darker, less enlightened place, especially in the winter. These days candles still have an important function, that of mood setter and decoration.
It reminds us to treat ourselves and each other
A candle lit room often denotes a special occasion, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. World Candle Month reminds us that any time we want to add a little extra pampering to our day, lighting a sweet smelling candle can be just the thing.
It promotes candle safety and best practices
Candle lighting is so much more than wick to flame. There are the obvious safety practices, but there are also tips and tricks to better enjoy your candling experience. World Candle Month highlights those tips and practices.
World Candle Month dates