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En~LIGHTEN~ment

by Denise Jenike December 09, 2022

Enlightenment

The sun is setting one evening on the town of Dublin, Ireland in the year 1488. The villagers have no fear of the dark streets because Rathbornes Candle company is on the job of putting a candle in each of the lamp posts throughout the city. The middle ages might have been a dark time, but the city of Dublin was well lit, in a sense. The oldest continuously operating candle company in the world today, Rathbornes Candles were originally made for the church. However, in 1616 the Candlelight Law was passed in Dublin that encouraged all residents to display a candle in the window of every 5th house to help guide travelers. A lucrative contract for the candle maker. In addition, the company secured the contract to supply all prisoners with one candle, along with their issue of one blanket, upon their arrival in jail. Such a deal!

Why do we still love candles today after the invention of electric lights so many years ago? Are you thinking … romantic scenes… birthday cakes… solemn ceremonies? All come to mind. We take it for granted that candlelight will enhance these events. Why is that, anyway?

Who are the oldest continuously operating candle companies in the USA? Many early candlemakers started out as bee keepers and utilized the wax from the honeycombs. Such are the stories of Dadant and Sons, founded in 1863 in Illinois and the A.I Root Candle company, founded in 1869 in Ohio, still making beeswax candles today.

Chandlers, as they were one called, supplied the churches with hand made candles for all of the services and were made with the naturally sweet aroma of beeswax. Other types of fuel had been used over the centuries, such as such as tallow – rendered animal fats - but the aromas were less than pleasant. Some cultures used various lamp oils - such as olive oil. Candle makers in India added boiled cinnamon sticks to the wax for a pleasant aroma. What a great idea! 

Colonists, in the Northeastern part of America, learned how to extract scented wax from boiling local bayberries to make scented candles.

Today, scented candles are still popular with the addition of natural and synthetic fragrances developed specifically for wax. The key is to use quality braided cotton wick and develop a wax formula that will deliver a clean, long burning candle. Candle making is a combination of science and art; creativity and craftsmanship. Consumers have sophisticated tastes for subtle scents and high expectations for quality. Paraffin is the preferred wax because it is a highly refined petroleum product, a clean burning, affordable fuel. Think about the many uses for petroleum products, from coating milk cartons, to machinery lubrication, to petroleum jelly for personal use.

Once an essential item in the home, before the invention of the light bulb, candles today have become an esScential luxury. Turn off the TV and the computer and light a candle. With the flicker of the candle flame, the hustle of the day simply melts away. Lighting candles was, and is, not only part of a religious ceremony, but the soft glow a quiet reminder of faithful traditions, family welcome, humility, prayer and reflection. Candlelight, the world over, still holds its own in this respect.     Nothing can hold a candle to a candle. 


Denise Jenike
Denise Jenike

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