A Brief History of the Birthday Candle
Do we make our own destiny? Can we, through force of will, make our dreams come true?
Since Prometheus first stole fire from Zeus, the allure of a dancing flame and its power to mesmerize us have made it the focal point of countless customs, rites, and ceremonies. We also recognize it as the symbol of passion, desire, and romance.
The origins of the candle remain shrouded in mystery. In Egypt, Greece, China, India, and Japan, the ancients used various forms of candles for the illumination of homes, for night travel, and religious ceremonies. In some cultures it was thought that the smoke from an expired candle carried one's wishes up into the heavens where the Gods would hear them.
For many thousands of years, the quest for a safe, affordable, and clean-burning flame remained a technological challenge. This changed only recently with the invention of the electric light bulb in the late 19th century.
Amazingly, though they are no longer a necessity, candles continue to grow in popularity. Their power to soothe the senses, calm the mind, and appeal to the spirit is as important as ever.
It is no surprise that the custom of "making a wish" before blowing-out candles is a time-honored birthday tradition. Mystical, magical, or merely entertaining, it is a moment when we can focus on making our deepest wishes come true.