Eureka Candles: Finding Your Passion
What happens if a young man wants to propose to his love in Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico? He must first ask her parents for her hand in marriage and must present the family with what is known as a ‘marriage candle’. This candle is staggering. Mind-blowing. It’s an absolute work of art.
These candles are tall – up to eight feet tall (they can be custom sizes). And are built of 1,000 hand poured layers (yes, hand poured and yes, 1,000 layers). Imagine a candle, pillar width – but eight feet tall. They burn for a year as a symbol of the groom’s commitment to his bride.
Doña Viviana invented these candles. And now, they are a custom and tradition in her town.
While her giant candles are the showstoppers, she does many sizes of tapers – and roses. Viviana makes her incredible candles using 100% beeswax from Chiapas, filling the town with the scent of honey as she pours her wax most days of the year. Every single candle is hand poured, layer after layer after layer after layer. And at 75-years-old, she won’t have it any other way.
Viviana insists that her candles be 100% handmade, and no machinery is involved at any stage. And it must be done with her own experienced hands. She knows her candles burn longer because of the attention she gives them, and that her wicks will burn cleaner because of their quality. No candle leaves her workshop without her seal of approval.
Viviana’s story is enchanting, and it began to unfold more than six decades ago.
Determined to set out on her own path from the candle-making tradition and profession that had been in her family for 300 years, she ran away and married a weaver at the age of 14. Nothing can stand in the way of true love, especially one so strong. Little did she know at the time, that eventually, she would come full circle to carry on her family's legacy of candle-making.
Some time later, when she was at a loss about what to do and how to make a living, she sat absent-mindedly beside a rose bush and pulled the petals off a flower. And she thought of her long-lost family and wondered how they were.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, she had her eureka moment as she suddenly realized … these elements, these layers of rose petals, would make beautiful candles. So, she experimented with techniques and when she was happy with the results, she made a few and left them on the altar of the local church.
It started a buzz. A big buzz.
People began asking where to buy them, and she made a few more. And then the demand grew, and she started making more and more of them, discovering her passion and her path. But she still didn’t go home, she didn’t think they would have her. Her heart ached.
Years later, a legend in her region, she was featured in a glossy magazine. Her grandmother read the story and found her and broke down crying and told her how proud she was of her. The family was reunited.
So, you see - these are not just candles. They are far more than that. They are evidence that a traditional craft, one which has survived and been passed down through generations for centuries, can come back to life in the most mysterious ways.
You don’t think that Viviana’s “Eureka Moment” was accidental, do you? It’s the way of the muse, the way of the ancestors, and the way of the artisan.
As J.R.R. Tolkien said, “All who wander are not lost.” Sometimes, it’s just a detour.
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