A red candle on a table.


Written by Matt Frazer


Funeral candles are a fitting keepsake for any funeral or memorial service. The use of fire at a funeral can be dated back to ancient cultures and narratives.


History of Funeral Candles

The presence of fire at funerals is as old a custom as funerals themselves. Used throughout history by ancient civilizations, pagans, and Judeo-Christians, fire in the form of torches and memorial candles is an enduring tradition that provides comfort to the bereaved and respect to the dead. Candles serve as a unifying element, binding people who shared the same purpose and providing a persevering keepsake to commemorate the departed.


The word “funeral” itself indicates a torch-lit profession, derived from the Latin “funeralis”, from fumis, a torch. Burials occurred at night so torches were essential. Long after Christians denounced night-time burial as a pagan practice, funeral candles were placed around the body from death to burial and torches were carried in funeral processions.


Ancient cultures lit fires around the body to ward off evil spirits from taking possession of the corpse while protecting it from predators. Early narratives of death include claims that lit candles are emblems of joy, Heaven, and life, and are used to ban all dark spirits. Additionally, these narratives revealed that the use of fire confuses the spirit of the deceased, who has not fully realized death has occurred and may return to bring family members into the afterlife.


Meaning of Funeral Candles

Traditionally white to symbolize purity and to represent the spirit of the deceased, memorial candles are now easily personalized with photos, quotes, and details of the life being celebrated.


Funeral candles and memorial candles provide family and friends the affirming power of light. The quivering and flickering flames have been compared by poets to the uncertainty of life, affected by the forces of fate. When the flame is extinguished, it is symbolic of death.


To continue remembrance of the departed, mourners receive memorial candles at funerals to return home with them as a keepsake. Lit on occasions to commemorate the deceased’s life, candles have the power to continue remembrance and pay homage to the mysterious forces of life.


Waxes are environmentally-friendly and their flames’ lifespan can be up to hundreds of hours. Creating such candles is incredibly easy with simple funeral software that allows funeral professionals the ability to offer beautiful, long-lasting, and personalized keepsakes to client families.


Memorial candles are significant keepsakes, symbolizing the departed and celebrating life. Funeral professionals are now able to offer many options to client families, who will reflect upon the candles for years to come, remembering both those that have left us and the tender kindness of the funeral home during their period of sorrow.


Download Tribute Center for free today to create your own personalized Tribute Candles and Life Journey Candles for the families you serve.