Light a candle

By Caitlin Kelly


As I write this post, it’s snowing here in New York.

The world is blessedly silent and softened, flakes swirling in the wind and piling up against our windows and ledges.

Our view of the Hudson River is totally obscured in a blanket of white.

Perfect time for candles!

My vision of candles forever changed about 20 years ago, when I visited Stockholm in late November, when the sun rose at 8:30 a.m. and set around 2:30 p.m.

Darkness arrived so early in the day that it was both unsettling and disorienting.

I’d never before seen businessmen at lunch — dining by candlelight. But it was both a smart way to boost illumination and add to the room’s ambience.

I now start and end my winter days with a bedside scented candle, a gift from a friend.

It’s a soothing start to a dark, cold, windy morning — the scratch of match-head on matchbox, the whoosh and flare of flame, the flicker as it catches the wick and begins to glow.

At night, I breath out, extinguishing it. The day is done.

So much nicer than brilliant, suddenly shocking electric light or, worse, the artificial glow of a tablet, phone, television or computer screen.

(If you ever watched Downtown Abbey on TV, you might recall the Dowager Duchess holding a fan to her face as she confronts the new glare of electric bulbs.)


Candlelight is silent.

Candlelight is gentle.

Candlelight is timeless.

It reconnects us to the past — from the tallow candles of our ancestors to the elegant tapers of Georgian homes (magnified by enormous mirrors everywhere.)

Try it and see how it alters and softens your mood

As the saying goes — it’s better to light a single candle than curse the darkness.

18 thoughts on “Light a candle

  1. Enjoy the candlelight and the snow. It sounds lovely and peaceful 🙂 I’ve been burning the Winter candle from The White Company. It has such a gorgeous, festive scent.

    Different fragrances can be so uplifting. My sister gave me an essential oil diffuser for Christmas, together with a ‘De-stress’ essential oil blend. The diffuser softly glows as the scent vaporizes. I have it on my bedside table and it’s a nice way to start and end my day.

  2. Pingback: [BLOG] Some Sunday links | A Bit More Detail

  3. I’m already a candle convert but enjoyed this post all the more because of it. This Advent, I bought a wreath and enjoyed the ritual, and even discipline, of lighting just one candle each Sunday before Christmas. When I think back on 2016, I also associate candles with the French and US embassies near the Brandenburg Gate, where people laid them in mourning and solidarity after the attacks in Nice and Florida. Last month’s attack on a Christmas market here – a place of twinkling lights and festive mood – felt like a flame going out. But the many tributes, among them candles of course, were a reminder that some lights never go out.

    1. I love the Advent tradition, at church, of a different candle each week. It creates a real sense of anticipation…

      And, yes, candles now have a wholly different and much sadder connotation. Thanks for adding that reminder.

  4. We’ve had more snow this year than in the past 2 years I’ve been in the Pacific NW and its been wonderful! There is something so cozy about watching snow from inside of your home with a fire going…or candles. I do worry about the homeless, but let’s not dwell on that right now.

    I was watching an episode of Portlandia in which they had a blackout. They had to pull out the candles and, in the candlelight, the two women from the feminist book store were replaced by models. They looked stunning. Then the lights came back on and they were themselves again. It was quite funny! 🙂

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