6. Candles were lit to imitate the sun and Ward off Evil
Whether they are burned in churches or homes, in the times before electricity, candles were essential if an expensive way of ensuring adequate light in the darker months. Today, candles are still very much an emblem of Christmas and many people still light them as scented, atmospheric decorations-even though they are no longer strictly needed. However, in earlier times and other traditions, candles had an additional significance during Christmas and the midwinter season. Christians customarily lit candles in their windows to symbolically guide Jesus as he went from house to house on Christmas Eve. This candle lighting, however, was borrowed from earlier traditions.
Roman pagans used candles as miniature representatives of the reborn sun. The late fourth-century Christian writer Scriptor Syrus described the custom of the “kindled lights” that people used as part of the festivities for the rebirth of the sun around midwinter. Candles were also part of the Saturnalia when the Romans lit long wax tapers and gave them to guests as gifts or as offerings to Saturn. However, Christianity may not have borrowed all its candle lighting traditions from paganism. Many of the first Christians were Jewish, and midwinter is the time of the eight-day long Jewish festival of Hanukkah when celebrants light a candle every day.