People burn candles for the most fundamental reason: to have or to give a source of light. Perhaps there was a power shortage and the people of the 21st century rely again on candles “to shed light in the darkness”.
Looking back as far as 3000 BC, history will tell that it was the Cretans together with the Egyptians who were the pioneers in producing candles out of beeswax. Colza oil, rapeseed oil and even the oil coming from sperm whales known as spermaceti are all used for candle-making. You can buy ‘birthday party candles’ (which is also known as ‘Geburtstagsfeier Kerzen‘ in the German language) for celebrating your birthday event.
Religion is probably the very first thing that could be closely associated with candles. People burn candles as part of their expression of faith. Candles are burnt during vigils, in times of stormy weather, when asking for special petitions or wishes and also a form of thanksgiving and remembrance for the faithful departed.
Nowadays, candles are not just seen at churches, cathedrals, monasteries, temples and other places of worship. They could be found adorning the centre table of one’s living room, as an accent on your bedroom’s side table, a perfect, eye-catching centrepiece at the dining table or an added piece of decoration in the bathroom.
Now, of course, let’s not forget that candles are most particularly present during birthday celebrations, and where else could they be most visible but on the top of the birthday cake standing proudly and brightly.
And would you believe that the real reason why candles are put on a birthday cake is to somehow measure the strength of the celebrator? That is, on how he or she can blow really hard and well just to ensure that all burning candles will expire.