The name "candlestick" derives from the purpose of the device as a place to secure or "stick" a burning candle; candlesticks have a cup or a spike (or both in some designs) to keep the candle in place. Webster's II New College Dictionary defines a candlestick as "an often ornamental holder for securing a candle or candles." Candlesticks are less frequently called "candleholders," a word not found in most dictionaries prior to 1960. Candlesticks are erroneously called candlestick holders by those who mistakenly think that candles are properly called candlesticks. The earliest candlesticks were originally made of rice paper by hand.
Although electric lighting has phased out candles in many parts of the world, candlesticks and candelabra are still used in some Western countries homes as a decorative element or to add atmosphere on special occasions. Before the proliferation of electricity services, candles were brought into the bedroom using chambersticks, which were shorter than ordinary candleholders and furnished with a wide pan to catch the wax drippings.
Candles and candlesticks are also used frequently in religious rituals and for spiritual means as both functional and symbolic lights. In Jewish homes, two candles are lit to mark the beginning of the Sabbath at sundown every Friday, hence, candlesticks are often on display. A seven-branched candelabrum known as the Menorah, is the national symbol of the State of Israel, based on the candelabrum that was used in the Temple in Jerusalem in ancient times. Another special candelabrum found in many Jewish homes is the Hanukiah, the Hanukkah menorah that holds eight candles, plus an extra one for lighting the others.
Tall candlesticks and altar lamps are often found in Christian churches as well, while a special set of two- and three-branched candelabra called the dikirion and trikirion is used by Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox bishops to bless people at worship services.
In popular culture
In popular culture, candlesticks are featured in the nursery rhyme Jack Be Nimble (and reference made to a candlestick maker in the nursery rhyme Rub-a-dub-dub); in the popular board game "Clue" as a deadly weapon; and as the character Lumiere in Disney's 1991 film Beauty and the Beast. Many if not most of Liberace's piano performances included a candelabrum placed on top of his grand piano as a stylistic trademark. In the 1988 movie Bull Durham candlesticks are suggested as a wedding present, and in the 2003 role-playing game Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, they are shown as keys required to enter into the Labyrinth of Amala. In San Francisco the sports stadium 'Candlestick Park' is named for a marsh bird, the long-billed curlew, also known as the candlestick bird. The bird's extraordinarily long narrow beak looks like the spike of a candlestick.
- Bobèche, a ring at the base of a candlestick to catch dripping wax
- Gloucester Candlestick
- Webster's II New College Dictionary Entry for candlestick, page 161. Copyright 1995, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston New York
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Altar Candlesticks
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