What Is The Tradition Of The Red Candle?

A tradition refers to a long-established custom or belief that has been passed down and followed by a community or culture over many generations. Traditions connect us to the past and provide a sense of shared identity. The tradition of the red candle is a custom that has origins dating back thousands of years in multiple cultures across the globe.

Red candles are made of wax and come in varying shades of rich, deep crimson reds. Their vivid red color makes them stand out and gives them symbolic meaning. The tradition of using red candles has a long history intertwined with cultural practices, religious ceremonies, meditation, and celebrations. Red candles represent powerful ideas like love, passion, energy, and courage across many belief systems.

Origins in Ancient China

The tradition of using red candles originated in ancient China, where they were an important part of rituals and ceremonies. Red was considered a lucky color and symbolized joy, celebration and good fortune. Red candles were often used in religious rituals, to honor ancestors and deities, and during holidays like the Lunar New Year. They were thought to bring blessings, ward off evil spirits, and usher in luck and prosperity. This symbolic meaning arose because red was associated with fire and blood in Chinese culture. Fire brought light and warmth, while blood represented life force. Red candles enabled people to harness these auspicious elements. Over time, red candles became ingrained in Chinese culture and spread to other Asian societies. The reddish glow and upward flickering flame continues to signify positive energy and serve as spiritual protection.

Spread to Other Asian Cultures

The use of red candles spread from China to other Asian cultures like Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. In Japan, red candles are often used in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. They symbolize passion and are thought to provide protection. In Korea, red candles are lit during celebrations like birthdays and weddings. Long red candles called Chaju are burned during ancestral memorial rituals. In Vietnam, red candles decorate family altars and are used during festivals like Tet. In Thailand, red candles are an important part of ceremonies and rituals in Theravada Buddhist temples. Their crimson glow is thought to emit positive energy.

Symbolism in Western Culture

In Western culture, red candles are strongly associated with love, passion, and seduction. The color red evokes primal emotions like desire, lust, and attraction. A red candle symbolizes the heart and raw human passion. Lighting a red candle sets a romantic mood, making it a popular choice for romantic dinners and evenings. Red candles are often given as gifts on Valentine’s Day to kindle the fires of passion in a relationship.

Beyond romance, red candle flames signify courage, strength, and determination. Athletes may light a red candle before a competition to get pumped up. Red candles are also used in magic spells and rituals to draw a lover using the power of color symbolism. Overall, the red candle is an icon of vitality, confidence, and burning human emotion in the West.

Use in Religious Ceremonies

Red candles hold special significance in many religious faiths and are often used in ceremonies, rituals, and celebrations. In Catholicism, red candles symbolize the blood of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit. They are lit during baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations. Red candles are also lit during the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In Wicca and other pagan faiths, red candles represent love, passion, sexuality, courage, and change. They are used in spells and rituals for love, sex, strength, and protection. Red candles are often burned on Wiccan altars. In Hinduism, red candles may be used in Lakshmi Puja rituals to honor the goddess of prosperity.

Many Buddhist and Hindu temples and shrines feature red candles that worshippers light as offerings. Red candles are also used in Vedic astrology to counteract malefic planetary energies. In ancient Egypt, initiates entering the Mysteries carried a red candle representing the regenerative power of fire.

Across religious and spiritual traditions, the red candle imparts sacred wisdom, vitality, and power to rituals and ceremonies. The red flame ignites the devotion in people’s hearts, minds, and souls towards the divine.

Burning Red Candles in Meditation

Lighting a red candle can be a powerful focal point during meditation. The flickering flame provides a visual that helps calm the mind. As you gaze at the candle, breathe deeply and visualize the flame’s energy permeating your body and spirit. Red candles are said to stimulate the root chakra, which governs security and primal instinct. Focusing on the candle can help center your energy in the present moment.

Follow these steps for a red candle meditation:

  • Sit comfortably with your spine straight.
  • Light the red candle and place it at eye level in front of you.
  • Breathe deeply for a few minutes until you feel relaxed and focused.
  • Gaze softly at the candle flame as you inhale and exhale.
  • Visualize the flame filling you with its vibrant red energy.
  • Continue breathing deeply while observing the candlelight.
  • If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to the flame.
  • Take 5-10 minutes to bask in the candle’s glow and sense its energizing effects.

A red candle meditation can be powerful yet soothing. The candle helps concentrate your mind, while its red light invigorates your being. Make this meditative practice part of your self-care routine.

Red Candles for Special Occasions

Red candles hold special significance and are often used to celebrate important events and milestones. Some of the most popular occasions for lighting red candles include weddings, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day.

At weddings, red candles represent love, romance, and the joining of two hearts. Long-stemmed red candles are commonly used on the altar and at reception centerpieces to signify the unity of marriage. Many couples also incorporate red candles into their ceremony decor to create a warm, romantic ambiance.

On anniversaries, lighting red candles is a way to rekindle the passion of a relationship. Surrounding red candles with rose petals or using candles that burn two wicks intertwined are both beautiful symbols of enduring love on special anniversaries.

Red candles are also a must-have on Valentine’s Day, when their glow sets the mood for a romantic evening. Small red votive candles can adorn a Valentine’s Day dinner table. Exchanging a red candle as a gift is a thoughtful gesture, showing you want your loved one to feel special.

Whatever the occasion, red candles add a touch of beauty, warmth and celebration. Their flames remind us to cherish each passing moment with loved ones.

Making Your Own Red Candles

If you want to make your own red candles, you have a few different options for coloring and scenting them. The main techniques for dyeing candles at home are using candle dye blocks or liquid candle dye. Candle dye blocks come in a variety of colors, including red shades. To use them, you simply melt the dye block in with the wax as you are making candles. Liquid candle dyes are concentrated and a little goes a long way – usually only a few drops per pound of wax. They often come in red and other popular candle colors.

There are also natural options for dyeing candles red at home. You can infuse wax with flower petals or spices to naturally color the candles. Popular red options are rose petals, hibiscus, cinnamon sticks, paprika, cayenne pepper, and saffron. Keep in mind these may have a subtle effect compared to commercial dyes.

Scenting your red candles is another fun way to customize them. Essential oils like cinnamon, clove, pine and citrus can provide festive scents. For romantic or spa-like red candles, consider floral scents like rose, jasmine or vanilla. You can even blend scents for unique aromatic combinations. Use essential oils sparingly so the fragrance isn’t overpowering.

Candle wax can be molded into different shapes, so red candles don’t have to be boring taper or pillar styles. Consider making red votive candles, carved candles, or cylindrical container candles. You can find molds online or make your own out of silicone. Hand-dipping taper candles is also a simple technique for shaping your own red candles at home.

Making customized scented red candles is easy, creative and inexpensive. With some candle wax, dyes and essential oils, you can experiment with designing unique red candles perfect for any occasion.

Shopping for Red Candles

Red candles are widely available both online and in stores. When shopping for red candles, there are a few key things to consider:

Materials: Red candles come in a variety of materials like paraffin, soy, beeswax, and gel. Paraffin candles are affordable and common. Soy candles are made from soybean oil and burn cleaner. Beeswax candles are natural and non-toxic. Gel candles contain a gel fuel and come in glass containers.

Sizes: Red candles come in many sizes, from small votives to large pillars. Consider what size you need for your purpose. Votives and tealights are ideal for scattering. Tall taper candles work well in candelabrums. Pillars make dramatic centerpieces.

Decorations: Many red candles feature additional decorations. These include painted designs, glitter, carvings, scents, flowers, gems, and more. If you want a plain candle, look for a smooth single color. For a more decorative candle, explore ones with additional embellishments.

You can find red candles in mystic shops, craft stores, home goods stores, online stores like Etsy, and big-box stores like Target and Walmart. Compare prices and designs to find the perfect red candles for your needs.


Red candles hold deep symbolism and significance across many cultures. In China, red candles represent luck, happiness and are often used for celebrations. The tradition spread to other Asian cultures like Japan and Korea, where red candles continue to signify joy, success and commemorate special occasions. In the West, red candles took on additional meaning in Christianity, Judaism and pagan religions, frequently used in ceremonies, rituals, meditation and prayer. Lighting a red candle marks holidays like Christmas and Kwanzaa, while also creating an ambiance for romantic dinners or relaxation. Despite originating in ancient China, red candles transcend culture and time. No matter one’s background or faith, red candles invoke powerful imagery of passion, energy, and commemoration of the most meaningful moments in life.

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