In 2018, the global candle industry was worth 3.45 billion US dollars. Though they are the world’s oldest form of light, it’s safe to say that the popularity of candles has not yet burned out.
The primary consumer of both scented and unscented candles are millennial women. That said, most people, regardless of their demographic, appreciate candles for their significance in culture, their aesthetic, and their ambiance.
The most common and accessible candle is the classic tealight candle. Let’s take a walk through history and explore some interesting tealight candle facts.
Today, the tealight candle is mostly associated with mood lighting and cheap but chic decor. However, its humble beginning was purely utilitarian.
In Victorian England, wealthy people had their trays of food and tea warmed by candles. These thin candles, placed in cylindrical metal candle holders, were the original hot plate.
These lights were primarily used to warm tea in a tea warmer. Hence the term “tealight” candles.
Symbolic Candle Lighting
Candles have been used to demonstrate symbolism across various religions and cultures for centuries. Perhaps the most notable tradition involving tealight candles is the Japanese tea ceremony. Though each type of Japanese tea ceremony stands for a different height of Zen, they all have several factors in common, including the use of tealights. Lighting candles signifies the time and mood change from daylight to dusk.
religious ceremonies around the world feature tealights in their candle-lighting traditions as well. This is typically ascribed to monotheistic religions.
For instance, in both Christianity and Judaism, candlelight symbolizes the light of God. It can also mean the continuation of the life of a spirit after a person passes away.
In the Catholic religion, a traditional candle mass is held annually at the beginning of February. It is meant to symbolize the feast of the purification of The Virgin Mary, or else the presentation of the Lord. During this special mass, Catholics hold lit tealight candles and form a procession around the church.
Tealight Candle Facts and Specs
The average tealight is a small, cylindrical candle. Its wick is usually fused to the bottom of the candle’s metal casing.
These lights have a burning capacity of two to five hours, and they are marketed for one-time use. They give off a gentle, warm glow which is dimmer than more modern candles.
Though they already come in their own metal casing, tealights usually need to be lit in a larger holder. Today’s tealight holders vary in size, shape, and even material. For instance, this lantern set is purely decorative; it’s meant to enhance the visual appeal of the basic tealight.
What They Are Made Of
Traditionally, tealight candles are made of white, unscented paraffin wax. However, many variations stem from this basic standard.
A trending topic among health enthusiasts is whether paraffin candles are toxic. Several studies suggest that the chemicals in paraffin can cause cancer if ingested through fumes.
This research is inconclusive at best, but it sparked the creation of the soy-based candle. Though basic tealights are still made of paraffin wax, some are also made of soybean. Those candles are marketed as more eco-friendly and even hypoallergenic.
Those who enjoy candles but don’t love their flames need not despair: Flameless, LED tealights became available in recent years.
The case for LED candles is strong:
- They are great for mood lighting
- They don’t require cleanup
- They are not a fire hazard
- They can be used outdoors in nearly any weather
Flameless tealights are ideal to use at outdoor vigils on windy days, for example. The flames won’t burn out, nor will the wick be wasted as it would be with traditional candles.
Tealight Candles In Current Culture
While tealight candles were originally utilitarian and later symbolic, now they’ve taken on another type of importance in popular culture. They are relaxing and romantic. But why are tealights so readily loved by consumers eager to relax and revel in love?
It’s all In the Lighting
There’s no need to spend your last dollars on a five-star romantic candle-lit dinner; just buy a bag of tealight candles and recreate the intimate ambiance at home.
but why is a candle-lit dinner so desirable, anyway? Why does it signify romance?
Tealight candles emit soft and dim lighting. The glow is intense but not too bright.
This type of lighting sets a relaxing mood. Soft candlelight can also mimic so-called “bedroom eyes,” since it causes a person’s eyes to dilate. A relaxed mood and bedroom eyes combined equal romance.
Candles In Film
Candles are associated with romance most strongly through film. For instance, the ladies from the 2000’s HBO show Sex and the City would regularly use tealight candles to set the mood for their dates.
That said, tealights are used in the film in a more practical and fascinating way these days as well. In the British show Wolfblood, tealights were used as both a prop and a form of lighting for the set. They were used as lighting during all of the nighttime scenes. These casual candles catered to the camera while replicating nighttime darkness.
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