Did you know Memorial Day started during the Civil War? By the late 1860s, people in towns and cities across the nation began holding springtime tributes to the thousands of fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers, reciting prayers and lighting candles. Some records show that one of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865.
Lighting a candle in remembrance of loved ones goes back much further in time with candles and lamps found in burials of ancient Greeks and Romans. Nearly every religion going back to ancient times incorporates lights or candles as part of rituals remembering loved ones. In fact, the word “votive” comes from the Latin words “vōtīvus” meaning “promised by a vow”, and “vōtum” meaning “a vow.” Today “votive” is defined as a noun, “an object offered in fulfillment of a vow, such as a candle used as a vigil light.”
Across time, cultures and faiths, remembering our loved ones by lighting a candle is a tradition we can all relate to. We find it comforting to think that over the centuries, our ancestors from around the world in times of deep pain shared in this communal remembrance. We hope you enjoy your Memorial Day and find comfort in remembrance of your loved ones as well.