354 The Book of Indoor and Outdoor Games
with candles are relics of the once far-spread worship of the sun and fire.
The burning of the candle on this day has for ages been regarded with superstitious faith, as an augury. It may amuse twentieth-century maidens to try their fate by it. At a certain time, wax matches should be passed around, and each person in turn is requested to light her candle.
A bright spark in the candle flame denotes that the person nearest will receive a letter. A thief in a candle is the prophecy of a wedding—the lover stealing away the light of the home is presumably the flattering origin of the superstition.
Windy weather is foretold by the waving of the flame without visible cause, and wet weather if the flame does not light readily. In most parts of Europe the peasants believe that a fine Candlemas portends a severe winter. In Scotland they say:
"If Candlemas be fair and clear There'll be twa winters in the year."
The one that burns longest means a happy and prosperous marriage; the one going out first, a poor and luckless one. This is always extremely exciting, and will be eagerly watched.
Before leaving the candles to burn themselves out, a test of fortune may be made for fun. Each girl stands three paces from her candle and endeavours to extinguish the light with as few puffs as possible—for each puff counts for a year's delay of her marriage.
The candle idea mav be carried out further in the refreshments. The caterers have ice-cream candles in pretty cardboard candlesticks of any colour, and a blanched almond inserted for a wick will burn for several minutes.