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Unity Rituals and Symbols Ideas: Lighting the Unity Candle!

Updated: May 1

Unity Rituals and Symbols Ideas:

Lighting the Unity Candle!


What is a 'Unity Candle Ceremony'?

A unity candle ceremony is the symbolic bringing together two individual flames into a brighter, stronger unified flame.


Where does the 'Unity Candle Ceremony' originate from?

This is a wedding tradition, deriving from ancient religious, cultural and spiritual uses of lighting candles to symbolise life, strength, goodness, joy, light in the darkness, hope, harmony or prayers.


Candle lighting is used in many faiths and spiritualism. For Christianity, Jesus is referred to as the 'light of the world'. Candles are lit during baptism to symbolise the child passing from darkness into light', the sanctuary lamp is lit to show the presence of the blessed sacrament (blessed bread and wine); the advent wreath with the excited anticipation of the arrival of Jesus and the festival of Christmas. Lights adorn houses and communities to celebrate Christmas and Jesus' birth. Candles are lit inside churches and cathedrals for prayers and symbols of hope too. In Judaism the Menorah lamp is present in most synagogues, along with the Ner Tamid lamp, lit to show G-d's presence. Similarly the festival of light is Chanukah, where the 9 branched candelabra is list, recalling G-d's protection of the miracle of the oi in the Temple. Evert Shabbat (weekly) and festival, is typically welcomed in with the mother lighting two candles to welcome in the honoured guest that is Shabbat. In Hinduism, the festival light is 'Diwali'. Lights welcomed home the god Rama and the goddess Sita, back into their homeland, and the festival is celebrated with diva lamps around the world.


Lighting candles also has symbolism in secular/Humanist households. Many people lighting candles on a celebratory cake, such as a birthday cake. Sensory candles are now a feature of modern decor, providing an uplifting or calming environment. In a power cut, candles still provide 'light', comfort and direction to people.


So religious, cultural, spiritual or Humanist, light and candles have a symbolic use in many traditions.


How can you make your Unity Candle Ceremony unique?

The candle designs can be unique, following your ceremony theme or colours. You may have bespoke messages printed on the candles. Your choice of candle holder too. You may wish to include your mothers to light the single candles first, before the couple, or include children with additional candles (age permitting!) The prayers or readings during this element can also be personalised. You may prefer to have some music in the background as this element is conducted.



What happens during a 'Unity Candle Ceremony'?

Typically the celebrant will explaining the meaning and symbolism of the ceremony. The couple will each light an individual smaller/thinner candle. They then use these candles to light a larger 'pillar'' candle together. The flame that burns int he larger 'pillar' candle symbolises the newly formed unity of the two partners. The ceremony may end with each partner blowing out the other’s individual smaller/thinner candle. This also has symbolism of them saying goodbye to their unmarried life and eternally bonding them, as one. The new light is stronger, brighter signifying the strength and hope for their future united lives together.


Why chose a 'unity candle' element in your ceremony?

  • Candles and the message of 'light' has been an important symbol and been incorporated into many rituals including baptism and weddings for centuries.

  • This ceremony can be adapted to be appropriate for the couple and their families: a religious, spiritual, cultural or Humanist ceremony.

  • It allows mothers or parents/guardians of the couple to be included.

  • You will be able to adapt and design the ceremony to your own requirements and meaning.

  • It is a ritual and symbolism of unity and the strength of two individuals becoming one couple.

  • You will have a keepsake, to display as a visual reminder. The candles my be re-lit at significant future times e.g. special anniversaries, the birth of a child or a vow renewal.

Can you have other Unity Symbols and Rituals along with a Unity Candle Ceremony?

Yes you can! It is your ceremony, so you can include what ever sections have meanings to you. A celebrant is not constrained to the typical 15 mins of a civil registrar. Although, the caterers do need some guide of the length of the ceremony, if you add some of these! So the choices are yours: jumping the broom, crown ceremony, handfasting, tree unity planting or any others! (See my other blogs!)


'Your Day, Your Ceremony, Your Way!'


Donna x

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