Naturally, anthroposophists are not alone in lighting candles during christmas and all through december. One might say, though, that they have a special fondness for candles (and altars — or ‘tables’ — that incorporate candles, in one way or another, as anyone familiar with waldorf education can testify). All year around, in fact, but particularly around christmas, which is rather unsurprising. If you go into anthroposophical shops, you’ll find candles and candles holders and all these things.
Then — what kind of candles? Ideally, it should not be any kind of candle. On a superficial level, it might not seem to make any difference what candle you choose. But it does. Ideally, from an anthroposophical perspective, candles should be made from beeswax. Bees are tremendously important. It’s said that they have a very highly developed group soul.
A proper anthroposophical christmas tree has 33 candles, and they should be beeswax candles. This means, of course, real candles, not electric.
WHEN the candles are lit on the Christmas Tree, the human soul feels as though the symbol of an eternal reality were standing there, and that this must always have been the symbol of the Christmas Festival, even in a far distant past. For in the autumn, when outer Nature fades, when the sun’s creations fall as it were into slumber and man’s organs of outer perception must turn away from the phenomena of the physical world, the soul has the opportunity — nay not only the opportunity but the urge — to withdraw into its innermost depths, in order to feel and to experience: Now, when the light of the outer sun is faintest and its warmth feeblest, now is the time when the soul withdraws into the darkness but can find within itself the inner, spiritual Light. The lights on the Christmas Tree stand there before us as a symbol of the inner, spiritual Light that is kindled in the outer darkness. And because what we feel to be the spirit-light of the soul shining into the darkness of Nature seems to be an eternal reality, we imagine that the lighted fir-tree shining out to us on Christmas Night must have been shining ever since our earthly incarnations began. [Steiner.]
Though this is about the christmas tree specifically, I do think it gives valuable clues in general about the prolific use of candles in anthroposophical tradition.
Beeswax candles are actually very nice — the candles on the photograph are the (properly anthroposophical!) beeswax candles of last christmas. They have been coloured red.