Why Do People Light Candles When Entering an Orthodox Church?

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When entering a Greek Orthodox Church, the first thing people do is grab a candle and then light it in the designated spot. It’s such a big part of our ritual that they may not even fully realize why this is part of the church service. After the candle is lit, the next step is to make the sign of the cross in front of an icon and then kiss it before entering the church. Here’s a look at why candles are lit upon entering the church:

Symbolism of Candles

Greek Orthodox Christians are taught that candles symbolize what is known as the Light of God or the Light of Christ. In the Bible, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Orthodox Christians that without Jesus, we would be living in darkness. He came to the world to die on the cross to save us from our sins.

Why We Light Candles

When we light a candle, it helps us remember that Jesus is the light of the world. That is why we refer to it as the Light of God or the Light of Christ. Jesus brought the world out of darkness of sin and into the light by dying on the cross.

Where Candles Are Used

Besides lighting candles in the Narthex as you walk into a church, you may notice that candles are used in other places throughout the church. These include in and near the alter, the nave, which is an area where a lot of icons are present, during a baptism, during a wedding ceremony, and even in the home.  which is No matter where they are, they will always be looked at as the Light of Christ or the Light of God.

The next time you light a candle in church, it helps to remember the symbolism. We light candles in the Greek church to remind us that Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). Remembering why we do it will help make the moment even more special.


Orthodox Wiki

The Religion section on GreekBoston.com was written by Greeks to help people understand some of the traditions of the Orthodox Christian religion, which is a religion practiced by people in countries such as Greece, Russia, United States, and other nations throughout the world. This article is not a substitute for information found in the Holy Bible or by our church fathers, priests, and other clergy members.

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