Let the illumination commence this September as we celebrate World Candle Month with this year’s theme, “Lighten the Mood”. There is no better way to compliment a cozy Autumn evening than with the incandescence of candles. There’s just something captivating about candles — a simple pleasure that slows down time, creating magic in our daily lives with their glow and the plethora of shapes, colors, and scents they emanate.
What started in 2013 as an observance by the National Candle Association (NCA) to honor the candle has now become an annual event anticipated by millions of candle lovers from around the world. Candles may no longer be used as lights to guide us home, but they continue to brighten up spaces as sources of relaxation and calm, dispelling negativity and setting an unparalleled mood and ambiance. Discover the benefits of candles and join 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
World Candle Month was founded by The National Candle Association (NCA) in 2013. Established in 1974, the organization is widely recognized as the leading technical authority on candle manufacturing, science, and safety, and is the major trade association representing U.S. candle manufacturers and their suppliers. Its mission is to promote the global usage of candles and bring awareness to the benefits of candles. Candles are beautiful, fun, and can be used safely in most environments.
Candles have been around for a very long time. There’s evidence that the ancient Egyptians used a rudimentary form of a candle wick as far back as 3000 B.C. and it is well-known that the ancient Romans 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, its cost made it 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 crystallized sperm whale oil known as spermaceti wax.
However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that candles and the process we’re most familiar with today took 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.
Today, homemade candles have soared in popularity. Molded at home in different shapes and textures, indie candle stores personalize candles for a unique addition to the homes of customers.
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.
Candlemas Day FAQs
Is Candlemas the end of Christmas?
Although for most of us Christmas ends when we take our decorations down and have to go back to work. Candlemas, which comes 40 days after Christmas, is officially the end of Christmas.
Why are candles blessed at Candlemas?
The blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, representing his day of induction into Judaism.
What do people eat on Candlemas?
We hope you’re hungry. Candlemas is a chance for you to tuck into crepes, pancakes, cakes, and all grain-based foods.
World Candle Month Activities
Light a blessed candle
Religious and non-religious alike can follow Jesus' example in being a "light in the world." You can light a candle for goodwill, charity, or unselfishness, and be a part of the solution, for Candlemas and beyond.
Go to church
Even if you're not religious, you might learn something new by attending a mass celebrating the Feast of the Presentation. We're all better off if we learn more about each other's passions, including our respective religions.
Learn the history of the day
Candlemas Day has a rich and fascinating history throughout the world. Learn why it's such an important day within the Church and why it continues to be commemorated.
FIVE CANDLEMAS CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
France and Belgium
Candlemas Day is celebrated with a specific method of preparing crepes.
Candlemas Day is celebrated with tamales.
Bonfires and singing mark the end of Candlemas Day.
Children roam the streets singing and hoping to receive a reward of candy or coins.
The fortnight-long period of Candlemas singing, dancing, and feasting comprises a festival that’s in South America’s top three, with Rio’s “Carnival” and Bolivia’s “Carnaval de Oruro.”
Why We Love World Candle Month
It’s one of the most historic Christian commemorations
It was first celebrated in the 4th century A.D. when the earliest sermons on the Feast were given in Jerusalem. It's a longstanding tradition!
It celebrates the “miracle of the virgin birth”
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is seen as confirmation of the miracle of the virgin birth, a key tenet of Christianity. It is the impetus for Mary becoming a key figure within the Catholic Church and celebrates purity.
Celebrations feature local food and culture
The Feast of the Presentation is celebrated throughout the world. In the city of Puno, Peru, for instance, the festival includes a "costume dance" featuring 20,000 dancers and 5,000 musicians.
Candlemas Day dates