Hundreds Gather At ‘Stop Asian Hate’ Candlelight Vigil In Alhambra

In today's world it's surely easy to have illumination at night, so there should be no need for candlelight vigils when one could equally have electric light vigils. Do the candles in candlelight vigils have any symbolism?

  • 2
    In today's world we have candles, so there should be no need to have electric light vigils. It's not about providing a source of illumination: youtube.com/watch?v=oARpBM5lG3Q
    – uhoh
    Mar 21, 2021 at 9:42
  • What are the candles for then?
    – Allure
    Mar 21, 2021 at 9:49
  • 1
    @AndrewGrimm the Wikipedia article has a notation at the top. The whole article is about a specific incident, not a discussion of the term. Quora's When was the first candlelight vigil done? explores but there's nothing conclusive. There seems to be an association with religious/spiritual associates with a candle flame. It seems that the use of a candle is symbolic rather than a practical source of ambient illumination.
    – uhoh
    Mar 21, 2021 at 14:43
  • 4
    Candles are an ancient (ancient) metaphor for the human soul or spirit: the way they flicker and move almost as if they were alive. Candlelight vigils represent souls reaching out to souls. No one is likely to perceive an electric light as akin to a soul; they are too static and mechanical. Mar 21, 2021 at 18:48
  • 1
    I agree with Ted. There’s no political purpose here. It’s a candlelight vigil for people who were murdered, not a candlelight rally. Find an example where candles are used in a political sense and I’ll vote to reopen
    – divibisan
    Mar 21, 2021 at 21:52

1 Answer 1

  1. Candles only burn for a limited maximum time, symbolizing the general brevity of human life.

  2. Candles can easily be extinguished well before that maximum, emphasizing the particular and unfortunate brevity of those human lives being commemorated.

  3. Candles give less light at night than electric light, and hence allow more darkness, and provide a given scene greater artistic "negative space"; this negative space symbolizes the greater darkness of the mind or spirit, (i.e. intellectual, civic, and moral ignorance), against which these vigils protest.

  4. Candles are prettier. Imagine any such vigil, and imagine replacing each candle with LED candle shaped Christmas lights -- ugh!

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