What are the main reasons for having candles all around your home? To make the place look and smell gorgeous, right? But that wasn’t always the case. Candles have been around a long time – mainly helping people see in the dark. Us modern folk no longer need candles for that (thank you electricity!) but their history is fascinating…
Candles are older than bras
The oldest known use of candles is in China sometime between 200-400BC – that’s almost 2500 years ago! That means candles are older than socks (1500 years old), flush toilets (2000 years old), and bras – which are only 500 years old! So the next time you light your favourite Yankee Candle, you’ll be using ancient technology.
So when were scented candles invented?
If candles are so old, then how long have scented candles been around? You might be surprised to know that they’re about the same age as normal candles. They were used to hide horrible smells of all kinds and usually had a floral scent.
There’s a bit of controversy around who put candles on birthday cakes first
Blowing candles out on a birthday cake is not something you’d expect to be controversial, but it is. It seems people can’t decide on who put candles on a cake first.
Some people say it was the Ancient Greeks, who used birthday cakes to honour the birthdays of gods and goddesses. But there’s no solid proof for this theory.
Then there are the people who think the Germans were the first to do it in the 1700s. This theory has the most evidence, as the Germans regularly put candles on children’s birthday cakes.
Whoever was first, it was a great idea. Someone slobbering all over a birthday cake that everyone is going to share? Excellent!
Candles were used as clocks
It’s so easy to lose track of time. Even with watches, smartphones, laptops, cookers, microwaves, and TVs that have the time stamped everywhere – we still manage to be shocked at how time has flown. Imagine what it’s like trying to keep track of time when none of these things exist? Nothing would ever get done!
That’s why people used candles as clocks. Candles were made with lines marked in the wax, all the way down. The distance between the lines usually marked an hour. When a segment had completely burned, you knew a set amount of time had passed.
Things got really fancy in the 1700s: candle clocks that made a noise when an hour had passed were invented. As the candle melted, weights fell off and made a noise. This noise marked the passing of time. Thankfully we have watches and alarm clocks now!
To get the most out of a candle you need to do three simple things
- Keep the wicks trimmed. Between 5-7mm is the best length for consistent burning.
- You shouldn’t burn candles for longer than three hours at a time
- Always allow a candle to cool down before lighting it again
Follow these rules and your candles will last longer.
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