Word of the Week (126): KINARA (probability 7310), by David Sutton

Continuing the theme of domestic illumination, let's look at some words associated with candles. A KINARA is a candle-holder with seven sticks, used in Kwanzaa celebrations in the United States, Kwanzaa being a celebration held in honour of African heritage in African-American culture, observed from December 26 to January 1. During the week-long celebration of Kwanzaa, seven candles are placed in the kinara – three red on the left, three green on the right, and a single black candle in the center. Black stands for the African race, red for African bloodshed, green for the land of Africa. The word kinara is Swahili for candle-holder.

Candlelight being a beautiful thing and and a candle being an ideal object of meditation, it is not surprising that candles figure in many religions and religious ceremonies. A CERGE or CIERGE is a large wax candle burned before an altar. A BOUGIE is another name for a wax candle, from Bougie in Algeria; it can also mean a flexible medical instrument for distending bodily passages. A FAROLITO or LUMINARIA is a small paper lantern consisting of a candle set in some sand inside a paper bag, used in New Mexico and other parts of the United States at Christmas; the idea is that the lights will guide the spirit of the Christ child to one's home.

Other candle-related words are PRICKET, a small point or spike for holding a candle upright, DOUTER, a candle-extinguisher, TORCHERE, a tall ornamental candlestick or lampstand, and GIRANDOLE (or GIRANDOLA), a branched chandelier.

Finally let us mention TENEBRAE, a series of services in the Roman Catholic church conducted during Holy Week, in which candles are extinguished one by one at the end of each psalm with the final psalm being sung in darkness. Note that there is no singular TENEBRA*.


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