From the beginning, the small, lighted candles distributed to Moravians in America were made from beeswax. Beeswax, considered the purest of all animal or vegetable waxes, suggested the purity of Christ. The candle, giving its life as it burned, suggested the sacrifice of the sinless Christ for sinful humanity.
Over time greater emphasis came to be placed upon the candle as representing Christ, the Light of the world and the light shed by the burning candle suggesting our Lord’s command, “Let your light shine,” a concept summed up in the children’s hymn:
Jesus bids us shine
With a clear, pure light,
Like a little candle
Burning in the night.
Until the end of the nineteenth century, only the children received candles, and this is still the case in some churches. But the innovation of giving candles to the whole congregation has become an accepted and beautiful part of the Christmas Eve vigils in many places. The grownups are permitted to share in the childlike joy of the Savior’s birth, to become children again, if only for a brief moment. When everyone lived within walking distance of the church, the children tried to keep the candle burning until they reached home, where it would be used to light the candles on the Christmas tree.
The Men’s Brotherhood sponsored candle making project makes candles for many of the Moravian churches in North America. Each year, beginning in early fall the group begins making thousands of candles for distribution to churches for Christmas Eve services and other special events. They received orders from congregations throughout the province and even from congregations of other denominations. The revenues generated from the sales of the handmade candles is utilized to support the various ministries of the church. Everyone is invited to share in this wonderful outreach program.