choosing candles

Written for the dVerse prompt “St Lucy – bringing light into darkness“, and also as a follow up to my last poem, about putting the candles on the tree.

There is a science to choosing one’s candle.
One must consider the angle –
a straighter-standing candle burns longer,
a tilted is in peril of extinguishing itself
with its own dripping wax.
It must be visible –
not tucked at the back of the tree
where it might go out
without anyone noticing,
to become a source of argument.
It must be sheltered,
away from draughts,
even the smallest.
It must have just enough airflow to keep it going
so it burns slowly and lasts all night.
When all this is considered –
and you mustn’t take too long
lest someone else claim the best one first –
then the final consideration is who to choose it for.
Who, of those present,
and more especially of those absent,
needs the longest burning candle
to bring the most luck in the new year?

We celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve rather than Christmas day, and part of it is each choosing a candle on the tree. There are 10 to 14 candles on the tree, depending on how many of the little holders have been broken in the previous year. We light them well before dusk (about 8pm). Everyone chooses a candle for themselves, and the longer your candle stays alight, the luckier your new year will be. And, for the kids, you have to go to bed when your candle goes out. Hence there is a lot of thought put into which one to choose! Within a few years I expect the kids will be applying computational fluid dynamics to a 3D model of the room to determine which candle will allow them stay up half an hour later, and bring them luck. I always choose candles for a few absent friends as well, especially those who have had a bad year.



Filed under poem

20 responses to “choosing candles

  1. What a lovely tutorial and tradition, Kate ❤

  2. Margaret Schaff Bednar

    What a wonderful tradition and a poem to remember it by!

  3. That’s a lovely poem,and a lovely explanation of the story behind it! I like the planing, and then the generosity at the end!

    • Thanks Marion 🙂 It was something we always did on Christmas eve when I was a kid, and it’s lovely being able to do it with my kids now. Although a bunch of candles isn’t always great when it’s 35C outside and we don’t have aircon! 😀

  4. When I lived in Germany, we celebrated on Christmas eve, and I remember choosing a candle to put on the tree. I enjoyed your poem, which brought back memories, and gave me a good lesson in choosing my candle.

    • 🙂 I’m really glad it brought back memories for you. It’s a lovely European tradition, and we still follow it even though it’s the middle of summer and usually stinking hot when we’re lighting the candles.

  5. sanaarizvi

    Oh my heart, this is so lovely, so evocative! 😍😍

  6. flicker sear
    the smell
    and incensce
    are dear.

  7. I “love” the way you talk to us in so many of your poems … brava, well done!

  8. Love the way you put the meaning in light… it should not just be the right kind but also serve its purpose.

  9. I read your poem like a deep parable. It is truly insightful of the human condition, how we select and choose our sources of Light, the physics and psychology of it. Choosing candles for those loved ones absent adds even more depth to this experience, a symbol of prayer and intercession. Beautiful!

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