Worldwide Candle Lighting Day Date in the current year: December 8, 2024

Worldwide Candle Lighting Day Worldwide Candle Lighting Day is an annual remembrance ceremony held on the second Sunday of December. It was created to support families who are grieving the loss of a child.

The practice of lighting fire to honor the memory of the dead is thousands of years old; it has developed independently in many cultures and religions. Ancient civilizations believed that the flame of candles, torches, and oil lamps would guide the souls of the deceased on their final journey and protect them from the evil.

The concept of remembrance candles came from Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, it is a common practice to light a memorial candle (called a yahrzeit candle) on the anniversary of a loved one’s death on the Hebrew calendar. It is supposed to stay lit for 24 hours. In Christianity, candles are also widely used in memorial practices and lit in churches or at grave sites to commemorate death anniversaries.

Today, candles are associated with mourning even in non-religious settings. Candlelight vigils have become a common way to honor the memory of the dead. For example, International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is held on the third Sunday in May in memory of all those who died of AIDS, and Worldwide Candle Lighting Day takes place on the second Sunday of December to bring together families who have experienced the loss of a child.

The Worldwide Candle Lighting Day initiative was launched in 1997 by The Compassionate Friends, a peer support group that helps families experiencing the death of a child. Founded in the United Kingdom in 1969, the organization has since expanded to more than 30 countries around the world. The US branch of The Compassionate Friends has over 600 chapters in all states, as well as Washington D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Worldwide Candle Lighting Day is a virtual event, which everyone can attend regardless of their time zone. Every second Sunday of December, hundreds of thousands of people light candles at 7:00 pm local time in honor of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and grandchildren who died too soon, leaving their families devastated with grief. Numberless candles that are lit around the world to honor the young lives lost that will never be forgotten.

Candle lighting events are organized by the Compassionate Friends and other bereavement support groups, as well as cemeteries, churches, community centers, funeral homes, hospices, hospitals, kindergartens, and schools. These memorial services can range in size from just a couple of people to nearly a thousand attendees.

You can participate in Worldwide Candle Lighting Day by attending a candle lighting ceremony near you, organizing a ceremony on your own, or simply lighting a candle at home in honor and memory of young souls who left this world too soon. If you have your own story of grief to share, you can submit it to the Worldwide Candle Lighting Memorial Wall on The Compassionate Friends website.

Other ways to observe Worldwide Candle Lighting Day include reaching out to a family who have lost a child recently and expressing your condolences, volunteering at a children’s hospital or hospice, and spreading the word about Worldwide Candle Lighting Day on social media.

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Worldwide Candle Lighting Day, international observances, candlelight vigil, candlelight memorial, The Compassionate Friends