Candles have been used as a source of light and to illuminate celebrations for more than 5,000 years. The earliest use of candles is often attributed to the Ancient Egyptians, who made rushlights or torches by soaking the pithy core of reeds in melted animal fat.
While the Egyptians were using wicked candles in 3,000 B.C., the ancient Romans are generally credited with developing the wicked candle before that time by dipping rolled papyrus repeatedly in melted tallow or beeswax. Chinese candles were molded in paper tubes, using rolled rice paper for the wick, and wax from an indigenous insect that was combined with seeds. In Japan, they used wax extracted from tree nuts, and India boiled the fruit of the cinnamon tree.
A major improvement came in the Middle Ages, when beeswax candles were introduced in Europe. Unlike animal-based tallow, beeswax burned pure and cleanly, without producing a smoky flame. It also emitted a pleasant sweet smell rather than the foul, acrid odor of tallow. Gross.
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Factoid of the Week:
Ancient Greeks would bring a cake decorated with candles. It represented the glowing moon, to the temple of Artemis, the Goddess of the hunt and the moon. It only became a birthday tradition from the 1700s as every candle represented each passing year.
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Words of Wisdom:
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. – Buddha