CANDLEMAS DAY

The burning of candles has long been associated with religious rites and with feasts, an early practice being recorded as appertaining from the days of Justinian, the first celebration taking place in A.D.542. Candlemas, instituted by the Roman Catholic Church, commemorates the Purification of the Virgin. The candlesticks on the altars of churches throughout the world have their symbolic meaning. The great golden candlestick of Jewish ceremonial, already referred to, was of hammered gold, a talent in weight. It was supplemented by many others on the completion of the Temple of Solomon-and almost without intermission, the symbolic light of the candle has been burned in the worship of Jehovah. Amidst many variations of creed the candle burns still in Christian churches as fire burned upon pagan altars, always regarded as symbolic.

Again, we can picture the use of candles in churches solely for lighting purposes. Very quaint indeed are the sconces on some of the old pulpits on which were hour glasses and other curious objects. Stories are told of the preacher pausing in the course of his long sermon to snuff the candles, and, of the beadle or sexton going round the church for the same purpose just as later he would carry an extinguisher for " douting " the lights. The sconces and candelabra became more decorative, and in course of time added to the ornament of altar, pulpit and the building generally. Whatever the metal the " stick " should be regarded as secondary to the light it held. The lover of the antique and the connoisseur of art cannot forget his interest in the holder rather than the illumination ; yet in some instances the latter has added much to the beauty of the former.