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Origin of Bayberry Candle Tradition

Lighting and gifting bayberry candles in the Yule time is a centuries-old tradition. They say, it creates a closer bond and improves partnership. Some also believe that burning these candles in homes would attract wealth and prosperity.

The real bayberry wax candles are slightly bitter and leave an unpleasant, woodsy odor. Adding aromatic scents eliminates this odor, and are widely used in the holiday season. Bayberry scent in a candle is obtained by adding a bayberry fragrance or essential oil to the popular wax types such as beeswax, paraffin and soy. Mrs. Mabel Baker, a Cape Cod woman, was the first to make hand-dipped bayberry candles from wild bayberries. She observed a tradition of gifting these candles on the occasion of Christmas to family and friends.

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas! But do you know the origin of this tradition? Buzzle invites you to read further to know about the Legend of Bayberry candle.

The Origin

Legend has it that bayberry candles were made in the eastern coast of America which were the first scented candles ever made. The settlers there realized there was a scarcity of supplies which included even candles. To keep their homes illuminated, they had to collect tallow, which was animal fat obtained by slaughtering animals, to make candles out of it. This tallow gave out foul odor. On an average, 300 – 400 candles were required in a year, thus, making these candles in bulk would be a grueling task for the inhabitants.

Soon the colonists came up with the idea of making candles with bayberry. Bayberry is a shrub found widely in the Atlantic coast. This bush has a berry-like fruit that produces a greenish-white-colored waxlike substance. Gradually, they learned to make candles out of it by gathering bayberry bushels and boiling them for hours. The wax would float on the surface of water due to its buoyancy. The aromatic odor and acrid taste of the bayberries was far better than that of the tallow. Also, these tapers lasted longer.

But the nature of pure bayberry is highly brittle, thus, making it difficult to mold and to retain the shape of the candle. Hence, beeswax was added to the bayberry wax which helped mold and give stability to the candle. They also illuminated the area with a clean flame. This gave rise to a norm that burning bayberry tapers ushered in good luck and happiness in their homes.

source: buzzle.com