Why Is Candle Day Celebrated?

Candle Day is a yearly holiday that celebrates one of humankind’s oldest, simple inventions – the candle. Observed on January 31st every year, Candle Day honors the candle’s heritage and ongoing importance as a tool of necessity, artistry and symbolism. From the earliest human civilizations to the modern era, candles have illuminated our lives and rituals in profound ways. Candle Day provides an opportunity to reflect on how much candles have impacted society throughout history, while also looking ahead to the evolving role of candlelight in the future.

History of Candle Day

The origins of Candle Day date back to the early 1900s in Europe. During this time, candles were a primary source of light and heat in most homes. With the advent of electricity, candle usage began declining. In order to support local candlemakers and preserve candlemaking traditions, several European towns started celebrating Candle Day in the 1920s.

The purpose of Candle Day was to encourage people to continue using candles despite the availability of electric lights. On Candle Day, towns would host large candlelight vigils and parties, hand out free candles, and hold ceremonies honoring candlemakers. The day served as a reminder of the importance of candlemaking heritage and as a way to bolster the declining candle industry.

Within a few decades, Candle Day became popular throughout Europe as both a festive holiday and an economic boost for candlemakers. The tradition spread to North America and other parts of the world by the mid 20th century. Today, Candle Day celebrations combine merriment and charity while still highlighting the rich history of candlemaking in many cultures.

When is Candle Day Celebrated?

Candle Day is celebrated each year on August 14th. No matter which day of the week it falls on, the holiday is always celebrated on the 14th of August. The date was chosen because it coincides with National Creamsicle Day, highlighting the connection between candles and lighting the way for enjoyment and celebration. For some, the proximity of the date to summer’s end brings deeper meaning, as candles transition from amusement to necessity with the coming darkness of winter. But most see Candle Day simply as a mid-August tradition, an odd yet charming holiday handing out beams of light during the long dog days of summer.

Significance and Meaning of Candle Day

Candles have held deep symbolic meaning across cultures and throughout history. On Candle Day, the light provided by candles takes on special significance. The small, flickering flame of a candle represents several powerful ideas:

Hope – The glow from a candle pierces through darkness and lightens even the darkest of spaces. During difficult times, the candle flame reminds us to hold onto hope and have faith that better days lie ahead.

Inspiration – A candle’s flames leaps upwards, defying gravity. This inspires us to reach for our highest aspirations. Candle Day inspires us to let our inner light shine brightly.

Warmth – A candle’s heat brings physical and emotional warmth. On Candle Day we reflect on how even a small flame can warm our hearts and brighten our spirits.

Remembrance – Candles are lit in remembrance of those we’ve lost. The candles’ glow honors their memory and represents the immortality of their spirit.

Community – When many candles are lit together, their combined light is greater than any one flame alone. Candle Day brings people together in community and solidarity.

On Candle Day, lighting candles reminds us of these powerful symbolic meanings. The candles’ glow fills us with inspiration, purpose and connection.

How Candle Day is Celebrated

On Candle Day, the main celebratory activity is lighting candles. People light candles in their homes, at public events, and at candlelight celebrations. The day is marked by candlelight vigils, concerts, and festivals in many places around the world. Major landmarks often hold special candlelight ceremonies. For example, in France, thousands of candles are lit at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Many churches also hold candlelight services to mark the occasion. It’s also common for individuals to light candles at dinner or hold private candlelight celebrations at home with friends and family.

Candle Day is seen by many as a day to spread light in the darkness and bring hope during the winter season. The candles lit on this day are meant to symbolize warmth, unity, and the triumph of light over darkness. Candlelight events often include music, poetry readings, and other artistic performances. Oftentimes the events have themes of peace, love, or cultural heritage. Children also make arts and crafts involving candles such as decorating candles or making homemade candles. In short, the lighting of candles is the defining tradition of Candle Day and brings people together through beautiful candlelight ceremonies and events.

Popular Candle Day Traditions

Candle Day celebrations often feature beloved traditions that highlight the symbolic and decorative roles candles can play. Two of the most popular Candle Day traditions are candlelight dinners and luminaries.

Candlelight dinners on Candle Day create an intimate, romantic atmosphere. Families and couples traditionally gather in the evening for a meal lit entirely by candles instead of electric lights. The candle glow sets a warm, cozy mood. It encourages leisurely conversation and meaningful connections.

Another famous Candle Day tradition is lining sidewalks, driveways or paths with luminaries. These are small wax paper bags weighted with sand and containing a lighted candle. The rows of luminaries are a beautiful sight after dark. This tradition started in ancient times to light the way for those traveling on Candle Day eve.

Candlelight dinners and luminaries are classic Candle Day customs that highlight candles as symbols of celebration, hope and community.

Candle Day Around the World

While Candle Day originated in the United States, it has become an international celebration observed by people around the world. Here are some observations of how Candle Day is celebrated globally:

In Mexico, Candle Day is known as “Día de la Vela” and is celebrated by lighting candles in graveyards and churches to remember deceased loved ones. It is a solemn holiday that brings families together.

In China, Candle Day coincides with the traditional Lantern Festival. People light decorative lanterns and candles across cities and towns. The candlelight symbolizes letting go of the past and welcoming the future.

In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, candles are lit on windowsills on Candle Day eve to commemorate the winter solstice. The candlelights are believed to ward off evil spirits.

In Scotland, many towns hold candlelit processions on Candle Day eve. Bagpipers lead the town residents along the streets. The candles represent the return of longer days.

In South Africa, Candle Day is known as National Candle Lighting Day. It aims to raise awareness about child abuse and people light candles to remember child victims.

Impact and Influence

Candle Day has had a significant impact on the candle industry and candle culture over the years. With the rising popularity of this holiday, there has been a noticeable boost in candle sales around Candle Day each year. Retailers often see some of their highest sales of scented, decorative, and novelty candles leading up to and on Candle Day itself. The holiday has become a major sales driver for candle companies, specialty stores, and even mass retailers that carry candle products.

Beyond increased sales, Candle Day has also raised awareness and appreciation for candles in general. It has helped shine a spotlight on candles as not just functional objects, but as meaningful decor and gifts. The celebrations and traditions of Candle Day have made candles more top of mind for many consumers. This broader awareness has spilled over into everyday life, with more people enjoying candle-lighting as an everyday ritual or using scented candles to create ambiance in their homes. Candle Day has helped shaped candle culture and made candles even more embedded into our lifestyles.


Despite its popularity, Candle Day has not been without its controversies over the years. Two of the main concerns that have been raised are fire hazards and over-commercialization.

Candles, by their very nature, present a fire risk if not used carefully. With so many candles being lit on Candle Day, there is an increased danger of accidental fires. Safety advocates caution people to keep candles away from flammable materials, not leave them unattended, and extinguish them before going to bed. Still, fires caused by Candle Day candles happen every year.

Commercialization is another issue around Candle Day that some take issue with. As with other holidays, some believe the day has become too focused on buying and selling candles and candle-related merchandise. They feel the core meaning and traditions have been diluted by marketers seeking to capitalize on the occasion. However, defenders of the day note the importance of the candle industry in keeping the observance going.

The Future of Candle Day

Will the holiday continue to grow? With candles becoming more popular each year, it seems likely that Candle Day will only increase in prominence. As more manufacturers, retailers, and candle enthusiasts promote the day, participation is bound to expand. Social media also enables the communal celebration of Candle Day to be shared more widely.

However, some experts wonder if the event may have already reached peak popularity. There’s a chance the hype around Candle Day could fade in coming years. But new candle trends are always emerging, suggesting fresh ways to observe the holiday. This helps keep Candle Day relevant and engaging for both longtime candle lovers and newcomers discovering candles for the first time.

Environmental concerns could potentially limit the growth of mass-produced, disposable candles associated with the occasion. But clean-burning soy, beeswax or reusable candles may allow eco-conscious consumers to continue embracing Candle Day. The universal appeal of candles, and the joy they spark, will likely ensure Candle Day remains beloved for years to come.

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