Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Candles

The CandlesThe Candles

There was once a great house preparing for a ball. In that house were wax candles and tallow candles. The wax candles were pure wax. They were pretty and the candles set out for company. The tallow candles were, of course, made of tallow. They were not as pretty. They were used by the servants.

The candles happened to be near each other the day of the ball. The wax candle talked about how important he was. He got to see society. He had a pleasant shape and so forth. The tallow candle liked the kitchen well enough, but did wonder what it would be like to see the ball.

Before the ball could start, the lady of the house gathered up some things in a basket, including the tallow candle. The basket was to go to a poor family. The woman worked way up into the night and the tallow candle would be just the thing she needed.

The tallow candle was not at all impressed with the shack. He was lit with a terrible match and the surroundings were not pleasant, but soon the children of the house came out. They were delighted with the candle. The little girl of the house said she would have her own ball. The candle knew it wasn’t quite the same as being in society, but he certainly enjoyed lighting the house for the small family.


If you have some type of fat or wax, you can make a candle, honestly, I don’t know how well that earwax candle from Shrek would work. I do recall that Mythbusters tested it, but I forget the outcome. Beeswax is what many candles used to be made of, which of course was collected from beehives. A person would have to harvest about a hundred pounds of honey to get one or two pounds of beeswax. Needless to say, it was pricey stuff, and still is to a degree. Poor people wouldn’t have had candles lying around made from beeswax.

Tallow candles are made from animal fat, probably beef fat, but I’m sure sheep fat and pork fat(lard) have been used as well. Any fat can be used as a light fuel, this includes oil, which is just fat that is liquid at room temperature. The tallow would have been rendered away from all other edible parts of the animal. Most impurities would have been removed, but there is of course a great chance there might still be bits of hair and other things inside of your candles made from tallow, but most people were probably pretty meticulous about this.

The two main reasons tallow candles were the candles of the poor and of the servants were that beeswax was expensive and the tallow candles smelled, as in, they were stinky. The tallow candles contain glycerine, which apparently doesn’t smell very good when burned.

You don’t put your smelly candles out the good company.


One person is not more valuable than another person because of their composition or appearance or whatever. These two candles in this story were made of different materials, but they both had their purpose to serve and they both found their happiness. Was one happiness greater than another because of the background? In the end, your happiness is just as good as anyone else’s happiness, no matter who or what you may be. A garbage man can be just as happy as a doctor. The happiness of the doctor is not greater because he has more money or went to eight years of college.


I wonder if different things make Bath and Body Works candles happy compared to Yankee Candles?

Weigh In

Did one of these candles hold more importance than the other?

Was the tallow candle really inferior because of its material?


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