Heritage

Why Do People Light Candles for the Dead?

We trace the origins of this tradition.
IMAGE HENK VAN DER STEEGE / UNSPLASH
Comments

All over the country on All Saints' Day, cemeteries come aglow with the soft, warm flames of thousands of candles. It is a welcoming and beautiful sight.

The tradition of lighting candles for religious reasons dates back thousands of years before the existence of Judaism and Christianity. The Ancient Romans lit candles before the image of their emperor, whom they considered a god. 

Christians adopted the tradition of lighting candles but ascribed to it a variety of purposes such as for liturgy, prayers, and reverence to God. The act of lighting candles for the dead remains one of the most common uses of candles for many, but why do they do it?

Here are some reasons:

Candles extend prayers.
For Catholics, candle lighting is not merely symbolic but is a form of prayer. The candle acts as an extension of your prayer that gets repeated over and over for as long as the light is alive. This is why you may notice people uttering short prayers when they light votive candles in church or in cemeteries.  The beauty in this tradition is that it allows a person to remain connected to God even when one leaves to go about one's day. 

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

It drives away evil.
The purpose of candles is to bring light when it’s dark. For Christians, a blessed candle symbolizes the presence of Christ as the light of the world. It symbolizes how the earth is in shining splendor and how darkness and evil were defeated because of the radiance of Christ. 

Fire is a very powerful element in Christianity because it symbolizes God’s justice, especially in hell, and His purification of souls in purgatory. It is for this reason that the devil hates fire, even a single flame from a small candle lit by a follower.

It’s a form of sacrifice.
Burning a candle serves as a sacrificial gift or offering for the eternal repose of our loved ones. For Catholics, it helps alleviate a soul’s holy suffering in purgatory and shortens the time they spend there for purification.

People light multiple candles for their departed loved ones in the hope that they will spend little time in purification and finally come into communion with their Creator.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

The next time you light a candle, remember these things. For the faithful, a single candle goes a very long way.

Comments
About The Author
Mario Alvaro Limos
View Other Articles From Mario Alvaro Limos
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
Every family is different in how they display their wealth.
 
Share
These classic pieces are some of the most coveted from the brand.
 
Share
There’s far more to "Angels in America" than its tackling of gay and AIDS-related issues.
 
Share
Now you can add the Hermes level of luxury to your beauty routine.
 
Share
There's still some time to catch the musical that features songs by the Apo Hiking Society.
 
Share
The most exotic and family-friendly destinations, both near and far.
 
Share
Accurately portraying this kind of money means putting the right art on their walls, the right clothes on their backs, and the right food on their plates.
 
Share
When Ben Affleck proposed to J.Lo with a six-carat colored diamond, he kicked off a craze for one of the world's rarest diamonds.
 
Share
Plus, the one fashion-forward maternity brand she's sported multiple times.
 
Share
There are ghosts in MiraNila, but not the sort that cause nightmares.
 
Share
The stylish, lightweight look is ready to fend off spring showers.
 
Share
From step counters to triathlon companions, these are the ones that will make you a smartwatch owner.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US