Flickering Flames

By Diane Schlindwein

September 12, 2008 5 min read


Create ambiance using the soft glow of candles

Diane Schlindwein

Creators News Service

Although colorful twinkling Christmas lights are beautiful, candles can be a romantic addition to Yuletide celebrations for both friends and family. Not only does it create a stunning look for your home, the origin of burning candles at Christmas goes back hundreds of years.

History tells us that Martin Luther was the first man to put candles on a tree in Germany to represent the stars in Bethlehem. In old European tradition, putting a candle in the window celebrates the birthday of a prince. And in Ireland, a long-established custom was to leave a candle burning in the window on Christmas Eve to symbolize hospitality.

It's not surprising that the history of the largest U.S. manufacturer of scented candles, The Yankee Candle Company, began at Christmas. It was in 1969 that then-teenager Michael Kittredge, founder and former owner, made his first scented candle as a Christmas gift for his mother.

Today, almost 40 years later, Yankee Candle Company sells over 100 million candles each year, both in the United States and countries all over the world, Rick Ruffolo, senior vice president of brand marketing and innovation, said.

The holidays are by far the biggest time of the year for purchasing and using candles. "We see a two to three times increase in candle purchases during the holidays and an even bigger increase in usage," he said.

Today, there are many ways to purchase your candles for the holiday season. For example, along with mall specialty stores, The Yankee Candle Company also sell online and with a variety of retail partners, including JCPenney, Kohl's and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Many of the smells the company creates for the Christmas season are inspired by common customs. "While everyone has their own favorite traditions for celebrating the holidays, its amazing how many we share in common, from toasting family and friends with rich eggnog to ringing in the season with decorations of fresh evergreens, fruit and spices," he said.

Mistletoe, Balsam & Cedar, Sparkling Cinnamon, and Christmas Cookie are top sellers for the Yuletide season. Home for the Holidays and Holiday Home Sweet Home are also very popular. New additions for the 2008 holiday season are Eggnog, Red Apple Wreath, Red Berry & Cedar and Silver Bells. "All these holiday fragrances bring to mind nostalgic flavors, experiences and emotions of the season," Ruffolo said.

Candles can be used to scent different areas of the home and accent the decor. "A room without fragrance is an unfinished statement," he said. "You can think about fragrance just like you might consider how textures and colors impact the look and feel of your room.

"First, visualize and create spaces to accommodate your personal style and overall themes in the home. Finish the d?cor with a fragrance that matches your 'perscentality' as well as the mood, light and style you have achieved."

Scented, burning candles not only smell wonderful, but they also look beautiful, too. "One of the many great things about candles is how they can easily be customized to fit your particular home decorating style," Ruffolo said. "We recommend adding a touch of your own personality by going with a certain color scheme or your favorite scent. After all, it is your house."

Ruffolo suggested a tried-and-true way to create that little bit of extra sparkle for your holiday home. "Take a mirror and place candles on it to capture extra reflections of dancing light," he said. "This can be done for display on a table, or a centerpiece, or even used inside a [wood burning] fireplace." You can also find plenty of ideas for decorating in popular home decorating magazines.

For safety's sake, always keep an eye on burning candles and be familiar with how long they will last. Ruffolo said it's important that candles are burned within sight, kept out of reach of children and pets and never put on or near anything that might catch on fire.

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