The use of candles for home decorating is a relatively new concept, but it comes from an old tradition of using fire for both heat and lighting.
Candles were carried through dark tunnels, hung on the walls, and set on tabletops during evening discussions. Some people even used them to tell time. Nails were inserted into tapered candles, and as they burned down, a nail would fall. Because candles were made with primarily beeswax, one could tell the rate at which one would burn, and thus, tell time with the candle.
All of these uses for candles might seem primitive, but they were highly important and valuable. And though we have electricity now, we all seem to carry the same longing for light, protection, and heat. Because of this, many of the ways that we still decorate with candles is reflective of the past.
Read on for several ways that you can incorporate some of these old traditions into your modern home.
Hanging Candle Holders for Tapered Candles
The earliest known candles were from the Roman empire. They were made from beeswax or bayberries, which gave them a lovely green color. Before this, crude oil lamps were used. The bayberry candles were a favorite because they had such a lovely scent when they were burned. Some say that they were the original scented candle. To add a touch of this primitiveness to your home, you can mount bayberry scented candles on hanging candle holders on the wall.
Wall candle holders are easily found in most home decorating stores or online. This type of taper candle looks best when it is in a wrought iron candle holder though. Bayberry scented candles are most commonly found at Christmas time because there is an old tradition of lighting a bayberry candle on New Year’s Eve to bring good luck throughout the year. One set of wall candle holders is a lonely sight though. Be sure to put several of them in a group by a few pictures.
Tabletop Candelabras for Candles
Early Americans lived in crude log cabins made of wood that they gathered from trees that they cut down themselves. For safety, the houses had few windows, if any at all, in them. Electricity had not been invented yet either. Because of this, the only way to see inside if it was dark out was with candles. Because the walls were built with wood, wall-mounted taper candle holders were rare. There were some made with a metal piece mounted next to the wall to protect it from the heat though.
The majority of candles that were used were the tabletop style. But one candle did not provide enough light though, so several were needed. The early Americans created a solution for this by inventing the candelabra, which is just one type of taper candle holders. You can easily find candelabras still, though they are more ornate than years ago. Set one in the center of your table if it is small, or use two or three in a row down a long, narrow table. Then, turn off the lights, and serve dinner by candlelight as they did years ago.
Adding Pillar Candles for a Tranquil Touch
Tall, thick candles were commonly used for religious purposes during early Christianity. A candle was lit and a prayer said for a loved one in need. Some say that the use of candles in this way predates Christianity to the earliest times of pagan practices where they were used in ceremonies. The candles had to stay lit for several days for the prayer or wish to be granted, and so, candles were made thicker as pillars.
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This type of candle looks lovely if set on pillar candle holders made of glass. Choose calming colors, such as blue or white. Group pillar candles together on pillar candle holders of varying heights in a place where you want to create feelings of tranquility. A few dried flowers placed carefully around the bottom of them adds a simple touch of whimsy without taking away from their beauty.
Wedding Candle Decorations
The earliest use of candles at a wedding is not so ancient. It started about 40 years ago in America, and it still continues today. The bride and groom light a unity candle simultaneously after saying their vows. The unity candle is often large and ornate. And afterwards, most people are unsure what to do with it.
Well, it can be used in decorating if your religion allows it to be multi-purposed. You will need a large glass bowl of water to make it into a centerpiece. Set the unity candle on a metal candle holder that is taller than the water. Then, set some floating candle holders on the water. Put tealight candles inside the floating candle holders. This display is lovely for a round table set in a corner. If you don’t have a unity candle, you can get the same effect by purchasing a large substantial candle to use.
Candle holders in primitive times commonly featured a little curve to the side of them. This was used to hold on to them more easily since people carried their candles with them to see though dark passages of the home or while traveling at night. A smaller type of candle was used in these candle holders for portability, which is similar to what we now know as the votive candle.
Of course, we no longer need to travel by candlelight, but they do make great accent pieces. Set your votive candles in teacups found at a thrift store for a unique way to feature them as people did in the past. Or, put them in small mason jars anywhere that you think could use a little extra warmth and light.