Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah is a ritual that has been observed since the destruction of the Temple in 332 BCE when the Jews refused to acknowledge the deification of Alexander the Great of Macedonia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_in_Jerusalem). The menorah symbolizes the ideal of universal enlightenment. The branches allude to human knowledge and the central lamp represents the light of God..
The ring or wheel of the Advent wreath of evergreens decorated with candles was a symbol in northern Europe long before the arrival of Christianity. The circle symbolized the eternal cycle of the seasons while the evergreens and lighted candles signified the persistence of life in the midst of winter. Christians now light one candle on the wreath each Sunday as a part of the Advent services. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.
The way religions around the world use candles warrants a blog of their own and I'm guessing there are hundreds.
What is it about a formation of wax with a flickering flame that makes humans feel at peace and gives them hope?
Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson (http://www.helpguide.com/) tell us that, "The speediest way to stamp out stress is by engaging one or more of your senses."
Think about the senses a candle ignites...a kaleidoscopic light in the dark, an aromatic scent, soft warmth and a whisper of sound as the flame dances.
The only way you can feel the calming effect of a candle is by lighting one and staring at it for a few minutes. There is no way you can experience the full sensuality of a candle over the Internet. Your eyes may water a touch when you first gaze at the flame. You may even see double, but as your focus settles in you will escape to a faraway place.
In honor of the candle, I'll share an award winning film, Lightheaded by Michael Dacko, which focuses on the journey of a flame. The animation is incredible. Click on the first link:
<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/10470386?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/10470386%22%3ELightheaded%3C/a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/mikedacko%22%3EMike Dacko</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com%22%3evimeo%3c/a%3E.%3C/p>
A Little Something Extra:
"Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."