I have loved candles for as long as I can remember. I love the interplay between the dark and light. Candles are warm, inviting, romantic, and mysterious. Like our ancient ancestors, I find the spark of fire a magical discovery. Every time.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas nestles in winter. The further north you get, the longer the nights and darker the days as we approach Christmas. Yes, I’m talking about Winter Solstice. (I’ve blogged about my thoughts on Winter Solstice before.)
As we are celebrating Nordic Christmas this year, and as our family has recently moved to Michigan, I have renewed my affinity for candles. It isn’t that I didn’t appreciate candles in any of our southern homes, but I love them more now. Candles play an important part in Nordic decor. While I probably would be filling my home with candles even if this year wasn’t Nordic Christmas, certainly I’ve made a more concerted effort this year.
(I will not, however, be exploring the tradition of real candles on trees. No one does that any more for a very good reason: no one wants a house fire for Christmas.)
In addition to candles in the home you may observe other elements of light and dark in Nordic Christmas. Ice lanterns are enchanting outdoor candles. Swedish light stars also play a big role.
This isn’t to say that darkness doesn’t have it’s place. In fact what I really appreciate about the interplay between light and dark is the balance between the two. I rarely light candles during the day. When I do it’s more for the aroma than the light. After the sun goes down, however, I love to watch the flames flicker and glow. The more I consider the role darkness has in many things I love, the more I see it as necessary and less as evil. If you’re interested in exploring your own relationship with darkness my friend Janelle Hardy offers a free 10-day journey into dark and quiet spaces. I subscribed to her solstice emails last year and they had a profound effect on me. I’m happy to return again this year. If this sounds like something that interests you, you can learn more and sign up here.
Whether you live somewhere cold and dark, or whether you don’t, light a candle tonight and observe the interplay between light and dark. Take a minute or ten to sit quietly with your thoughts. You’ll be grateful for the peace a candle brings. Don’t we all want a little more calm during this busy season? I know I do.